On a Monday night in the middle of December of 1984, Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino passed fellow Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts’ record for most passing yards in a single season. Marino became the first quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in one season. Fouts’ record of 4,802 passing yards was just three years old when Marino threw for 340 yards against Dallas in the 1984 season finale. The final game brought Marino’s season total to 5,084 passing yards
Flash forward to 2008: against Carolina in the season finale, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees fell 15 yards short of Marino’s record. Brees threw for 5,069 yards becoming only the second player to break the 5,000 yard mark in a season. But his final throw of that game to get the record dropped incomplete.
Brees felt he missed out on a chance to make history.
“I didn’t think I would ever get close to the record again.” Brees said to ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski.
But in a Monday night showdown against division foe Atlanta, Brees wrote his name in the record books. The Saints quarterback threw four touchdowns and led his team to a lopsided victory against another playoff team, but that was a secondary story to Brees eclipsing Dan Marino’s passing record from 1984.
Brees needed 305 yards to pass Marino, and on his last throw of the game, Brees hit RB Darren Sproles for a nine yard touchdown giving him 307 yards on the night. Then the party began in New Orleans as Head coach Sean Payton used a timeout to allow his team to celebration before the extra point. Offensive lineman, wide receivers, running backs, defensive players and coaches congratulated Brees on his new record.
“I just got bum-rushed by the offensive linemen so I figured at that point, OK, I guess we finally broke the record,” said Brees according to Yahoo Sports
But don’t tell Drew Brees that this record is only his. He gave much of the credit to his teammates and coaching staff claiming that this record was theirs too.
“There’s so many people that are a part of this,” said Brees. “It’s not about me, it’s about this team, it’s about this city, it’s about these fans. So many people contributed to this, and I’m happy for them.”
It was fitting for such a historic record to be broken not only in front of the home crowd, but in front of the entire country. Ironically, it also came on a Monday night just as Marino’s did.
“I love our fans, I love the fact that everybody could be part of this on Monday Night Football,” said Brees.
Unfortunately for Brees, if he and the Saints aren’t careful, the record could be snatched from him in the final week of the season. New England quarterback Tom Brady has 4,897 passing yards this season. Therefore, Brady only trails Brees’ 5,087 passing yards by 190 yards. Both have one game remaining with New England playing Buffalo and New Orleans taking on Carolina. Could Carolina spoil Brees’ record chase again as they did three seasons prior?
Unless Brady suffers an injury or is pulled from the game, it’s almost certain he will become only the third quarterback (fourth time) to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. Brees will try to pad his total enough to keep the record in New Orleans.
All records aside, the Saints’ play impressed again and this time at the expense of the Falcons. Atlanta had two first quarter leads and after the two teams combined for three touchdowns on the first four drives of the game, it looked like it was going to be a shootout. But New Orleans’ defense stepped up and despite two Brees interceptions, the Saints routed the Falcons 45-16.
Looking towards the playoffs, it’s really tough to pick a team that will be able to stop this high powered Saints offense. Fans don’t even realize that in addition to having the number one ranked passing offense, their rushing game is also ranked in the top ten of the league.
It will be interesting to see if the top ranked defense from San Francisco, a possible division round matchup, can stop them or even slow them down. And if the Saints get past the 49ers, can Green Bay’s offense keep up with New Orleans. Obviously, Green Bay has already beaten New Orleans back in week one, but has the Packers’ offense improved enough to provide the punch the Saints will likely give the Packers 31st
Those questions will be answered later, for Monday night the NFL celebrates a new record, and it couldn’t have been broken by a nicer guy.