Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady made a surprise appearance during the halftime tribute for long-time New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Thanksgiving Night. After his retirement, Brees joined the NBC Sports' broadcasting crew and was among those who called the Saints-Buffalo Bills game on Thursday night at Caesars Superdome. The NBC broadcast team opted to honor Brees on the field at halftime where they showed a video, which featured the 44-year-old Brady. “Thank you Drew for retiring and don’t ever come back," Brady said in his message to Brees.

“All kidding aside, congrats man. I’m really happy for you,” he added. Brees played 15 of his 20 NFL seasons with the Saints and retired as the NFL's all-time leading passer with 80,358 yards.

Brady now all-time passing yardage leader

However, Brady eclipsed that Brees’ record during the Buccaneers’ Week 4 win over the New England Patriots. Brady also broke two of Brees’ other record – most games with four or more touchdown passes and most games with three or more touchdown passes. Brady now has 38 games with four or more touchdown passes and 98 games with three or more touchdown passes, one more than Brees. In addition, Brady is also expected to break Brees’ all-time record for completions. Brees finished his career with 7,142 completions while Brady has 7,062.

In Brees’ last season with the Saints, he led New Orleans to two wins in the regular season, but Brady and the Buccaneers took the game that mattered most in the NFC Divisional Round.

Brady says hard work starting to pay off

The Buccaneers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 30-10 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football in Week 11, improving their record to an NFC-best 7-3 mark.

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Coupled with the Saints’ loss to the Bills on Thursday, the Buccaneers now own a 2 ½-game lead over their division rival ahead of Tampa Bay’s showdown against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday At this point of the season, Brady stressed that this is where the team’s hard work really starts to pay off. “It may not show up through four weeks or eight weeks, but over the course of 16 games it all plays itself out,” said Brady, who completed 30 of 46 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

Buccaneers need to play best football

Against the Giants, the Buccaneers tallied 402 yards of offense where 10 different players caught a pass while eight different men ran the ball. "We've got to get guys the ball in different ways," said Brady, adding that it’s good to see everyone becoming a part of the game early. Last season, the Buccaneers won eight straight games after their bye week en route to their first Super Bowl title since 2002 with a 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. For this reason, Brady believes that this is the time of year for the Buccaneers to play their best football to be able to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles since Brady did it with the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.