Record Breakers & Record Chasers

Fans enjoying watching Saints win as they vie for NFL, franchise records


Going into the 2018 NFL season, New Orleans Saints fans had reason to feel really good about their team. After coming a play away from reaching the NFC Championship game last season, the team got stronger in the offseason, and was regularly mentioned as one of the teams to watch. Along with the excitement about the team’s potential was the anticipation that two of the Saints biggest stars were rambling toward rewriting both league and franchise record books.

The season got off to an ominous start, however, with an unexpected 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which the final score was much closer than the game ever was. In that loss, the Bucs sucked the life out of the Superdome with big play after big play, and the Saints couldn’t counterpunch their way out of the morass.

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Since then, the Saints have gone on a four-game win streak. They hurdled a surprising Cleveland Browns team with a three-point win and then beat the archrival Atlanta Falcons on the road in an overtime thriller. Preseason expectations seemed to emerge in Week 4 when they took over New York in a 33-18 win, followed by demolishing Washington 43-19 in a nationally televised Monday Night Football game.

Part of the intrigue of this season has also been individual players’ chase of significant records.

In his 18th NFL season, the greatest player to wear the Saints’ uniform is having an amazing year. Quarterback Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in completions when he passed Brett Favre’s record of 6,300 in the Atlanta game. Two weeks later, he broke Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 71,940 career passing yards in style with a 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith. Brees has passed for 72,103 yards and counting. As my friend David Rae Morris pointed out, Brees will now set the record every time completes a pass.

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Through five games, he is on pace to shatter another league record that he set just last year. He has completed 148 of the 190 passes he has attempted this year. That’s an eye-opening clip of 77.9 percent, almost eight points higher than the single-season record of 72 percent he set in 2017.

Brees is, of course, also chasing, arguably, the most coveted individual mark a quarterback can achieve, the NFL’s career touchdown record. For now, Manning holds that record with 539 TD passes. With 499 career touchdown passes, the Saints QB currently sits fourth in league history, one behind Tom Brady (500), nine behind Brett Favre (508), and 40 behind Manning. The horserace between Brady and Brees will more than likely run into next season, giving sports media plenty of time to build up coverage as the two battle toward the record book.

Brees is not the only Saint who is at history’s doorstep. After sitting out the first four games of this season with a suspension for using unapproved performance enhancers, running back Mark Ingram returned to the team rushing for 53 yards and two touchdowns. While those numbers are in no way gaudy, they moved him closer to Deuce McAllister’s career franchise records of 6,096 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns. Ingram now has now rushed for 5,415 yards and 46 touchdowns. He has 11 games left this season to add to his totals. He’s almost assured of getting the franchise’s rushing touchdown record this year, but the yardage record may be a bit tougher to accomplish in the 2018 season. The Saints are averaging 103 rushing yards on 25.4 attempts per game in 2018. With Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill, they have a crowded backfield.

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Ironically, Ingram’s four-game suspension may help him in his quest. He is this team’s power runner. His legs are fresh and he’s received less banging and bruising than his backfield teammates. He needs to run for 62 yards per game to catch McAllister this year. That’s five yards per game more than his career average of 57 rushing yards per game, but with 1,043 yards in 2016 (65.2 per game) and 1,124 (70.3 per game) in 2017, the fact is the past two years have been the most productive of his eight-year career.

While individual records are fun to track and celebrate, the focus in the locker room remains on the team and its ultimate goal. Whether records fall this year or next, winning is what’s important to this team. Saints leadership is smart enough to know that if the team wins the records will take care of them selves. And the team’s fans will be happy to celebrate every success along the way.



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