Drew Brees sets single season passing yards record!

An hour after he broke a 27-year-old NFL record, Drew Breeswas still trying to balance the perspective of his accomplishment against the bottom line of winning. As might be expected of a quarterback, he audibled.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of time for reflection other than just being with my teammates and my family there,” the New Orleans Saints quarterback said after Monday night’s 45-16 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. The win was punctuated by his 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles that gave him 307 yards for the game and broke Dan Marino‘s single-season mark of 5,084 set in 1984.

“I’m sure at the end of the season I’ll be able to reflect quite a bit,” Brees said. “For now, I just feel like there’s still so much left to be done. I do believe that life is too short; you do have to enjoy these things, because they’re rare. … We still have a long way to go, but this is pretty special.”

Three years after falling 15 yards short of Marino’s mark, Brees has an opportunity to add to his 5,087 yards in Sunday’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers. However, Brees took more satisfaction in leading the Saints (12-3) to their second NFC South title in three years, with the conference’s No. 2 seed as the next goal. As if winning a seventh consecutive game wasn’t fulfilling enough.

While that might not silence criticism of New Orleans‘ decision to pursue an individual record late in a lopsided game, coach Sean Payton insisted he based it on his team’s play at that point. The Saints had punted on two prior possessions, creating the possibility that Brees’ pursuit might be delayed another week and become an even bigger distraction.

“We tried very hard focusing on the game,” Payton said. “There’s been a lot of attention with this record. … There was a lot at stake in this game. Having that balance of understanding that, I’m not going to say this was a must-win for us, but it was important to secure the division and get on to the next step. It seemed like the right thing. … I feel real good about the decision.”

Brees, meanwhile, had thrown two interceptions and almost made the fundamental mistake of calling timeouts on consecutive plays before accepting a delay-of-game penalty. Payton downplayed the idea his quarterback might have been pressing, but it seemed as if Brees didn’t want to put off getting the record if he didn’t have to.

The Falcons turned the ball over on downs at their 33-yard line with 5:08 to play, leaving Brees with the time and yardage to catch Marino. Sproles capped the six-play drive with a catch across the middle, sparking a celebration with the quarterback being mobbed by his offensive line.

“The fact that we were (playing) the 15th game of the season and not the 16th, you kind of feel like, ‘Let’s not put added pressure on ourselves here,’ ” said Brees, who finished 23-for-39 with four TD passes. “We all want this very badly, but it’s all about winning. We weren’t trying to run up the score or anything. We wanted to end the game on a high note and put together a drive. Maybe that was a big enough reason to throw it.”

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