New Orleans, LA
Drew Brees set the NFL mark for yards passing in a season Monday night to lead the New Orleans Saints to a 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Dan Marino had held the record for 27 years before Brees connected with Darren Sproles for a nine-yard touchdown pass to eclipse the mark.
The pass gave Brees 5,087 yards passing this season, Marino threw for 5,084 in the 1984 season. Brees' performance also helped the Saints clinch the NFC South title.
The passing record is just another feather in the cap of Brees, who has had quite a run in the Big Easy. In six seasons he has helped lead the Saints to a Super Bowl title as well as three division crowns.
After the record-breaking pass Brees was mobbed by teammates, who couldn't have been happier to see him get the record. Brees also was happy to share it with them.
"I want everybody to feel they were a huge part of this. The offensive linemen, the backs, the receivers, the equipment managers, the trainers, Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton," Brees said. "This really is a team, a family record. This isn't one guy, because I certainly wouldn't be standing here if it weren't for those men."
New Orleans led 38-16 when the Falcons turned the ball over on downs on their own 33 with just over five minutes to play. Normally the Saints would have likely run out the clock but with the record hanging in the balance Brees threw on five of the six plays on the ensuing New Orleans drive.
The sixth was the pass to Sproles, who caught the ball inside the five and found the end zone.
"Typically, would I be throwing there?'' Payton said. "The answer would be probably no. In fact, the answer is 'I wouldn't be.' But I thought it was appropriate to get (the record), and we did it.
"He (Brees) made enough good decisions in the drive to eclipse the mark. We kind of stalled out a few drives earlier, but it was a big win. It was a big win for our team, and our organization. It's a special night.''
Brees finished the game 23 of 39 for 307 yards, with four touchdowns, two interceptions. The win moved New Orleans to 12-3, one game (by tiebreaker) behind San Francisco (12-3) in the race for the NFC's No. 2 playoff seed.
Atlanta (9-6) is currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC, which would mean another matchup with No. 3 New Orleans in the first round if both teams hold their present spots. The Falcons have lost twice this season to the Saints.
The Falcons may have a little extra motivation after the Saints went out of their way to get Brees the record, but in actuality, Atlanta would probably like to avoid playing New Orleans again for as long as it can.
"I hope Mike Smith knows that we weren't trying to run up the score or anything," Brees said. "Our mentality was we had played poorly in the fourth quarter offensively. We had three drives, three, three and outs. We wanted to end the game on a high note and put together a drive.
"I don't think it was so much about scoring a touchdown, it was about getting something going and feeling good about ourselves and finishing and then you throw the record in there. Maybe that was big enough reason to throw it."
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