NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees threw for 307 yards to set a new NFL single-season record for yards passing with 5,087, and completed four touchdown passes to lift the New Orleans Saints to a 45-16 division-clinching win over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
Brees entered the fourth quarter needing only 30 yards to break Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards. His four touchdowns gave him 276 for his career, moving him one ahead of Vinny Testeverde for ninth all time. He is the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 5,000 yards twice - he had 5,069 in 2008.
His first scoring pass went for 8 yards to Marques Colston and the second for 9 yards to Jimmy Graham. Graham's TD catch was his 10th of the season, a new franchise high for a tight end. In the third quarter, he hit Robert Meachem for a score from 24 yards. He hit Darren Sproles on a 9-yarder in the fourth quarter to break the record.
The Saints also had 415 total yards in the opening half, giving them more than 6,800 offensive yards for the season, breaking the 2008 club record of 6,571 yards. New Orleans continues to close in on the NFL-record 7,075 offensive yards in a season set by the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
Brees might have broken the record in the third quarter if not for Sproles' 92-yard kickoff return, which set up John Kasay's 29-yard field goal.
Matt Ryan had 373 yards passing and one TD, a 21-yard scoring strike to Julio Jones that gave the Falcons a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Both teams scored on all of their possessions in the opening quarter, with the Saints briefly pulling in front by 7-3 on Pierre Thomas' 4-yard touchdown run, after which he pulled a bow from his uniform pants, put it on the football and offered it as a gift to a woman with a parasol in the front row behind the end zone.
The referees weren't cutting Thomas any slack on his Christmas-themed celebration, flagging him for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.