Stamp Drew Brees’ name next to another NFL record, and this was a big one as he eclipsed one of the longest-standing records in NFL history. Brees passed Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback threw a TD pass for the 48th straight game with his 40-yard scoring pass to Devery Henderson with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
His record-breaking touchdown pass was the 115th scoring throw during the span of the 48-game streak. Brees’ teammates crowded around him in the end zone to congratulate Brees, and then Brees and backup quarterback Chase Daniel went through a series of high-, low- and other- fives near the sideline.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brees said after the Saints’ 31-24 win. “I just tried to take in the moment after the game, walking around the locker room and sharing that with my teammates, guys that are obviously as big of a part of this record as anyone. … You really couldn’t have written a better script for tonight. To break the record, to get the win and the fashion we won, it was really a complete team effort all the way around.”
Suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and linebackers coach Joe Vitt were in attendance at the Dome to watch Brees break Unitas’ record. Payton and his son, Connor, watched the game from a suite as NBC showed the two chatting leading up to kickoff. NBC also showed Loomis and Vitt standing together conversing in a suite.
Brees said he talked to Payton briefly after the game.
“It was great to see him,” Brees said. “He looks good. Obviously, I felt like this night wouldn’t have been the same without him in the building, and Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said via Twitter: “Congrats to @drewbrees & his teammates on breaking Unitas’ record. Amazing accomplishment by great QB & leader. We’re proud of you, Drew.”
Joe Unitas, Johnny’s son, was in attendance to watch Brees break his father’s record as he sat in the stands. He also wrote a letter to Brees earlier this week on Facebook praising Brees and rooting the Saints quarterback on to pass the record.
But after the game, Joe Unitas sounded more like Brees than ever as he said it was most important for the Saints to pick up the win and the record was a bonus. And in a bit of coincidence, Unitas wore No. 19 and Henderson, who also wears No. 19, hauled in the record-breaking reception.
“It’s pretty crazy that Devery, No. 19, would catch it,” Joe Unitas said. “You can’t write that stuff up. I’m more happy that the whole team battled the entire time and they were able to really clamp down there in the fourth quarter and make some plays and seal the win. It was awesome.”
The last game in which Brees hasn’t thrown a touchdown was on Oct. 4, 2009 in a 24-10 win over the New York Jets in the Superdome.
“Maybe Drew can hold it (the record) for 52 years,” Joe Unitas said with a laugh. “We’ll see what happens.”
Joe Unitas said without a doubt the most important thing about someone breaking his father’s record was that it was someone the Unitas family respects. And the family holds the utmost respect for Brees.
“The thing that I’m most proud of is somebody like Drew is now the record holder,” Joe Unitas said. “It’s incredible. He’s worked very, very hard all of his life. He hasn’t taken rejection or no for an answer. He battled a lot like my dad did to come up and achieve his goals. It’s a great night for him.”
Brees finished with four TD passes against San Diego. It’s the 22nd time during his streak where he threw at least three scoring passes in one game and the ninth time where he threw four or mores scores.
It’s also the third time Henderson caught the scoring pass to extend Brees’ streak. Marques Colston, who caught the record-tying TD catch last week in Green Bay, has the most TD catches to continue the streak with 12.
Colston also set a record of his own as he passed Joe Horn for the most receiving touchdowns in Saints history as Colston now has 52 TD receptions after his three scores Sunday night. Colston sits third on the Saints all-time TD list behind Deuce McAllister (55) and Dalton Hilliard (53).