Drew Brees threw for 307 yards on Monday night, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year old record of 5,084 single-season passing yards and helping the New Orleans Saints knock off the Atlanta Falcons 45-16 to clinch the NFC South.
With the victory, New Orleans improves to 12-3 and keeps their hopes alive for a first-round playoff bye, while Atlanta falls to 9-6 and will enter the playoffs as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed depending on how next week plays out.
Through 15 games, Brees has accumulated 5,087 passing yards and is on pace for 5,431 through the air. The former Super Bowl XLIV MVP was magnificent as usual on Monday, throwing four touchdowns to four different players and helping New Orleans convert on 10-of-13 third downs.
Brees was aided by the Saints three-headed rushing attack of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Chris Ivory. The three compiled 164 yards on the ground and an astounding 7.1 yard-per-carry average, as they continually punished Atlanta by bouncing off the first defender.
Despite permitting 373 passing yards to the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, New Orleans’ defense shut down Michael Turner (11 rushes, 39 yards) and had several goal line stands that forced Atlanta to settle for three points. Malcolm Jenkins also recovered a fumble for a touchdown late in the game to shut the door.
The Falcons were unable to capitalize on two Brees’ interceptions and were forced to play “catch-up” with the Saints high-powered offense. This caused Atlanta to abandon the running game and its typically balanced offensive unit.
The Saints host the Panthers in Week 17, while the Falcons travel back home to square off with Tampa Bay.