Although Sean Payton helped Drew Brees become the NFL's all-time single season passer, the coach isn't divulging whether he'll help his star quarterback to maintain that distinction.
With 5,087 yards passing after Monday night's victory over Atlanta, Brees enters the final week of the season 190 yards ahead of New England's Tom Brady. Yet the Saints' regular-season finale might not matter in terms of playoff seeding, meaning the more prudent choice for Payton could be to rest Brees for much of Sunday's game against Carolina.
The Patriots, by contrast, must beat Buffalo to ensure they'll have the top seed in the AFC.
It was quite a night Monday for Brees and the Saints - a record and a rout.
Brees broke a record Dan Marino held for 27 years, and New Orleans wrapped up the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Falcons.
Brees threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, the last a 9-yarder to Darren Sproles that set the record with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left.
It was Brees' final pass of the game. Marino finished with 5,084 yards for the Miami Dolphins in 1984.
As Sproles spiked the ball, Brees thrust his fist triumphantly in the air and started walking toward the sideline while the Superdome crowd in New Orleans went wild and his teammates chased him down. Offensive guard Carl Nicks was the first one to get there and tried to lift Brees onto his shoulder, but couldn't do it as teammates swarmed around.
"If I could have put him on my shoulders and paraded him around the whole stadium I would have done that. He deserves it," Nicks said. "It's like a movie, man. Just a movie ending. It's beautiful. . . . You could tell by everyone's reaction after he did it how much people care about that guy. We all love him."
The former Purdue star is the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 5,000 yards twice.
The Saints can earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye with a win Sunday over Carolina and a San Francisco loss at St. Louis, which is 2-13.
Pierre Thomas scored New Orleans' first touchdown on a 4-yard run, after which he pulled a bow from his 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.
Cheesy stocking stuffers
Sales of Green Bay Packers stock have been so brisk since an initial offering three weeks ago that the team is making another 30,000 shares available.
The team initially offered 250,000 shares for sale starting Dec. 6. But the allotment is nearly gone, even though the shares cost $250 each and have virtually no resale value.
The NFL's only publicly owned team is applying the proceeds toward a $143 million expansion of Lambeau Field. Buyers gain the privilege of calling themselves NFL owners, though the stock value will not go up and there are no dividends.
Tebow and the good book
Tim Tebow can add something else to his remarkable resumé. According to the Washington Post, the Denver Broncos quarterback is the author of the top-selling religious book of 2011.
Through My Eyes, which chronicles Tebow's life as a football player growing up and his Christian faith, has sold over 220,000 copies.
Publisher HarperOne is expecting sales to continue to soar once Tebow can promote it during the offseason.
- Inquirer wire services