Brees: Stafford the better QB at age 23

If the national media doesn't want to recognize Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, Saints' QB Drew Brees will.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford might have put up similar numbers this season, but he certainly didn't get the praise heaped upon Saints quarterback Drew Brees during the 2011 campaign.

In fact, Stafford didn't even make the Pro Bowl, despite posting 41 touchdowns and tossing for more than 5,000 yards -- in the process nuking virtually each of the franchise's passing records.

Even more impressive? Stafford did it at the age of 23, with his first two professional seasons shortened by injury.

Brees, who will test Stafford and the Lions during Saturday night's playoff tilt, passed for 46 touchdowns and eclipsed Dan Marino's passing mark with 5,476 yards.

But if the national media doesn't want to recognize Stafford, consider the former Super Bowl MVP in Stafford's corner.

"I think he's had a phenomenal season," said Brees during Tuesday's media conference call. "I don't think he's received the credit that he deserves. I know he's battled some injuries as well, so he's displayed some toughness and obviously he's fought through a lot."

Stafford had missed the bulk of his first two years in the league, including an injury to his throwing shoulder that all but annihilated his sophomore campaign. This season, Stafford has shrugged off a broken index finger, leading Detroit to its first winning season in 11 years.

"There's a big learning curve and I know that he has seemed to handle that very well and he's obviously been a big part of the turnaround there," Brees said, adding that Stafford was a "much better player" than he was at the age of 23.

In 2002, the 23-year old Brees was in his second year with the San Diego Chargers. He started all 16 contests for the ball club, registering 3,284 yards, 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

"You know, we're both Texas high school quarterbacks that kind of went on different paths to get to the NFL," said the former Purdue standout. "But regardless of how we got here, we're all trying to make our mark and definitely have been impressed with what he's been able to do."

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