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Drew Brees nears NFL record for touchdown passes, wants it to come within context of New Orleans Saints winning

"Once the season starts, you're just focused on winning games"

Right there, within fingertip reach, lies one of the most notable records in NFL history. And to add intrigue, there even is a bit of a race to break it first and, perhaps, to remain there during an ongoing pursuit of production.

And Drew Brees just doesn't really have the time to focus on it.

He knows it's there, of course, in that Brees kind of way where the New Orleans Saints quarterback appears to be keenly aware of anything and everything, his recall so pinpoint that you'd think someone was feeding him notes if you weren't witnessing it in real time.

But the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (76,577 and counting entering the Saints' game against Indianapolis on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) is more interested in stacking wins for New Orleans (10-3) than in noting where he stands on the league's all-time list for touchdown passes.

He's second, by the way, with 537, two behind Peyton Manning's record and one ahead of New England's Tom Brady, who will have an opportunity to break the record first, when the Patriots play Cincinnati at noon Sunday.

"I think, obviously, before the season you know you're a certain distance away," Brees said. "But then once the season starts, you're just focused on winning games and doing what I need to do as the quarterback of this team to put us in the best position to succeed and to win. With that, I guess, the statistics come and maybe they add up and then, all of a sudden you're close enough to be within striking distance of some of those things.

"But really not thinking about it, just focusing on this opponent just like we would any other opponent, making it the most important game of the season and knowing that we need our best execution in order to be successful. And also just continuing to build.

"We want to be an ascending team. We want to be playing our best football at the end of the season here, because those are the teams that typically do the best in the playoffs. I don't think we've reached our full potential yet. I'm still wanting to see that, from all of us. That's what we're building toward."

Offensively, the Saints offense seemed to take a step forward in the last game. In a 48-46 loss to San Francisco, New Orleans totaled 465 yards and Brees completed 29 of 40 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns, without an interception. He also ran for a touchdown.

Still, Brees is looking for more.

"Every game is different," he said. "Some games, you walk away from and maybe the statistics don't tell the story. I think for me, so much of it is situational football. How did you execute with the situations in the game? The critical third downs? The red zone efficiency? Taking care of the football? Capitalizing on big-play opportunities? Rushing the football? Just being efficient in every phase.

"I look back on that game and, yeah, we scored 46 but there was an opportunity here or there to maybe convert what was a field goal into a touchdown. Or we were just on the outskirts of field goal range when maybe one more play could have gotten us another three points and would have been the difference in the game. You always analyze little things like that and I definitely feel like we can be better."

And if "better" means a record-breaking Monday night, and staying ahead in the race to be the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes, then that's what it means.

"I don't think we're hitting on all cylinders," Brees said. "I still think there's plays to be made. That's what we continue to work on and strive for."

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