Brees, Saints kicked off historic season vs. Lions

Will this week's MNF game produce epic air and ground performances like their past matchups?

The New Orleans Saints host the Detroit Lions at the Superdome on Monday night.

This is a comprehensive and contemporary historical look at the Lions-Saints all-time series and Monday night performances.

Monday Night Football history lesson

All-time records on Monday Night Football:
» Lions: 13-15-1
» Saints: 18-19

Lions vs. Saints on Monday Night Football:
» Total matchups: 0. The Lions and Saints have met 22 times in a series that dates back to 1968, but never before have the two teams met on Monday Night Football.

One notable passing performance in series: Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 358 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-27 win over the Lions in Week 1 of the 2009 season. Those six touchdown passes were a career-high for Brees until his seven-touchdown performance against the New York Giants in a 52-49 shootout in Week 8. That Week 1 win over the Lions catapulted the Saints toward a 13-0 start to the season and then ultimate victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

One notable rushing performance in series: In a 35-17 Saints win over the Lions in Week 4 of the 1997 season, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders rushed for 113 yards. However, his performance was overshadowed that day by Saints running back Mario Bates. Bates rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Those 162 yards represented a personal best in the seven-year NFL career of Bates, whose final NFL season was played in Detroit in 2000.

One famous MNF game

Lions: Two of the game's all-time great running backs squared off on a mid-September evening at Texas Stadium -- in sweet throwback uniforms, no less. Emmitt Smith rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown, but it was Barry Sanders who starred in the Lions' overtime upset of the two-time defending Super Bowl champions. Sanders carried the ball 40 times for 194 yards in the thrilling win. Sanders finished that season with a league-leading 1,883 yards rushing in 1994.

Saints: The Saints' 23-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3 of the 2006 season is one of the most famous Monday Night Football games ever played. On the fourth play of the game, Steve Gleason blocked a Falcons punt and Curtis Deloatch landed on the loose ball in the end zone for a Saints touchdown. This moment has been immortalized by a statue outside the Superdome. In 2006, the Saints returned to New Orleans after a vagabond existence in 2005 following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Saints rebounded from a 3-13 season in 2005 to enjoy the franchise's most successful season to that point in 2006. The Saints advanced to their first NFC championship game, but came short of reaching the Super Bowl.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.