NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees, who turned 40 on Tuesday, hopes to still be playing at age 41.
When asked how positive he is that he will be back for a 19th season, the New Orleans Saints quarterback said, "I feel pretty positive."
He later said more definitively that, "I plan on being here next year and making another run at it."
"My mind's not even there right now. So this is all pretty fresh," Brees said after the Saints' 26-23 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's NFC Championship Game. "But [I'm] just going to take a few days to kind of let it all settle in, talk with my teammates and my coaches. But I plan on being here next year and making another run at it."
When asked if the fact that he doesn't know how many more chances he'll get to play in a Super Bowl makes the loss even harder, Brees replied, "Yes it does. Yes it does."
Brees, who has one year remaining on the two-year contract he signed this past offseason, had one of the best seasons of his career in 2018, with a personal-best passer rating of 115.7. And he broke Peyton Manning's NFL record for career passing yards in the process. But he and the Saints' season came to a stunning end -- thanks to a controversial no-call by the officials late in regulation and Brees' own interception during overtime.
Brees was hit as he threw by Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr., and the ball fluttered in the air before being caught by safety John Johnson III. The Rams kicked the game-winning field goal five plays later.
"Unfortunately, getting your arm hit and the ball flying up in the air, that's a tough way to give the ball back to them in overtime," said Brees, who was asked how tough it is to end his season on a play like that.
"Yeah, it's tough. It's tough," Brees said, followed by a long pause. "I thought we had a chance to go down and get points and a touchdown to win the game."
Brees had a solid game before the interception. He finished with 249 passing yards -- including touchdown passes to third-year tight end Garrett Griffin and backup quarterback Taysom Hill, making them the 14th and 15th players he threw TD passes to this season. And he completed a 43-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. to help set up the go-ahead field goal in the final minutes of regulation.
But it wasn't enough to bring him and the Saints back to their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Next season will mark the 10-year anniversary of that 2009 championship season.
"Listen, it has to drive you," Brees said of the way the Saints' last two seasons have ended, including the stunning "Minneapolis Miracle" last year. "Obviously it stings right now, and it will probably for a while. But as we look back on the 2018 New Orleans Saints, man, this was a special team and this was a special year."