Brees at his best against Brady, Patriots

METAIRIE, La. -- Going head-to-head against Tom Brady seems to bring out the best of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Brees is 3-0 in his career against Brady and the New England Patriots, including one of the most sensational performances in NFL history the last time they met during the regular season in 2009. In that game, Brees had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while throwing for 371 yards and five touchdowns on a Monday night in the Superdome -- one of the key performances during the Saints' Super Bowl run.

Of course, Brees said, the two quarterbacks aren't directly competing against one another. And he said every game is important, regardless of the guy throwing the ball for the other team. But Brees acknowledged Wednesday that there will be a little added motivation when the Saints (5-0) play Sunday at New England (4-1).

"Listen, you always prepare the same way. This game is just as important as any other game," Brees said. "But there is definitely a little bit extra when you're playing against a guy of his caliber."

Brees' first two victories against the Patriots came earlier in his career with the San Diego Chargers (at home as a rookie in 2002 and at New England in 2005). But the 2009 performance was one for the ages.

Even though the Saints were 10-0 that season heading into the game, Brees admitted that 38-17 rout was the kind of breakthrough victory that helped lift the Saints into a new stratosphere.

"Yeah, I'd say that was a huge confidence boost at the time," Brees said. "Just because we had played a lot of big games, we had played a lot of great teams [from the time Brees and coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006]. But we hadn't played the Patriots.

"Arguably, the Patriots are the team of the decade. Whatever you want to call it, they've won more games here over the last 10-12 years than any other team and three championships. ... So anytime you can get on the field against a team like that and play the way we did in '09, that's a huge confidence boost. Especially when, hey, we knew we were good, but you needed to kind of have yet another test in order to confirm that."

Asked if a win at New England could provide a similar confidence boost four years later, Brees said, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Absolutely yeah."

"Well, you're only as good as your next performance, No. 1," Brees said. "But going on the road in a hostile environment like that. Listen, they're extremely good at home. They're like 31-3 or 30-3 in the last three years at home [actually 31-3 since 2009]. So they know how to win, and they know how to win at home. So this would be a huge accomplishment for us. And we know it's gonna be a difficult task, but one that we've got to step up to."

The Brees-Brady storyline lost some of its luster last week when Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass in a 13-6 loss at Cincinnati -- snapping his streak at 52 consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Brady was all lined up to try and tie Brees' 54-game record Sunday.

"Oh, I had written it off. I thought it was a done deal," Brees said of the record he set last year by breaking Johnny Unitas' old mark. "Yeah, but crazy thing happen in this league."

So far this year, Brees has been more consistent than Brady. Brees has thrown for 1,722 yards with 12 touchdowns, four interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.7. Brady has thrown for 1,211 yards with seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a completion percentage of 56.6.

Brady's getting more of his weapons back healthy, though, with receiver Danny Amendola returning last week and tight end Rob Gronkowski possibly returning this week. So the Saints are preparing to see Brady at his best.

"They are different in a lot of ways. And yet they are competitive and guys that know how to win," Saints coach Sean Payton said of the 6-foot-4 Brady and 6-foot Brees. "Look, it's a good team we are playing on the road after another road game we just played. They are coming off a tough loss and we are going to have to play one of our best football games. I think our players see that and they understand that."

As for Brady, he hasn't talked much -- or been asked much -- about the individual matchup with Brees this week, since there is so much focus on the Patriots getting their offense back on track.

Asked Wednesday if it's imperative to put long drives together against a team like the Saints to keep their offense off the field, Brady said, "I think we'll put together any drive at this point to score points.

"Long, short, it doesn't matter. We've got to score touchdowns. This defense really forces you into some long drives. I don't think they've given up many big plays this year. They have played from the lead a bunch, which is why they probably have a lot of sacks, interceptions and have been ahead in a lot of these games."

Brady continued: "We've got to try and score quickly, methodically, whatever it takes because they have a good offense, they have a good team, they play well on special teams. We are going to have to play a very well rounded game."