By The Associated Press
It was quite a night for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome – a record, a rout and a division title.
Brees set the NFL record for yards passing in a season, breaking a mark that Dan Marino had held for 27 years, and the Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.
Brees threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, the last a 9-yard strike to Darren Sproles that set the record with 2:51 to go.
“So many people contributed to this, and I’m happy for them,” Brees said.
It was Brees’ final pass of the game, and it gave him 5,087 yards passing – with one game to play. Marino finished with 5,084 yards for the Miami Dolphins in 1984.
As Sproles spiked the ball, Brees put his arm over his head and started walking toward midfield while the crowd went wild and his teammates chased him down.
Brees’ four touchdowns give him 276 for his career, moving him ahead of Joe Montana (273) and Vinny Testeverde (275) for ninth all time. He is the first quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards twice – he had 5,069 in 2008.
Brees’ first scoring pass went for 8 yards to Marques Colston and the second for 9 yards to Jimmy Graham. In the third quarter, Brees hit Robert Meachem for a score from 24 yards.
The Saints (12-3) had 463 total yards, giving them more than 6,857 offensive yards for the season, breaking the 2008 club record of 6,571 yards. New Orleans continues to close in on the NFL-record of 7,075 offensive yards in a season, set by the 2000 St. Louis Rams.
Matt Ryan had 258 yards passing and one TD for the Falcons (9-6), who have clinched a wild-card berth.