Michael Thomas sets record in Saints' win over Rams

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The year was 2003. Two squads of grown men played a rousing game of football inside a modern architectural marvel in the Big Easy.

Drew Brees and Sean Payton hadn't yet come to town. The New Orleans Saints hadn't yet won their first Super Bowl.

But inside the Superdome that night was a cell phone, stashed under a pad wrapped around a goal post. Actually, there were two.

"Joe" is former four-time Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, of aughts Saints fame in the pre-Drew Brees days. He caught a touchdown pass on that night -- during ESPN's broadcast of Sunday Night Football -- from Aaron Brooks and ran to the goal post to find the phone stashed in the back of the pad. In the time of flip phones, it was the perfect prop for a celebration in an era that frowned upon such frivolity.

No matter.

Horn demonstrably dialed to no one in particular and held the phone up to his helmet, and that was it. Call me if you can catch me.

Fifteen years later, Michael Thomas paid homage.

That celebration capped an unstoppable day for Thomas.

Unstoppable Performer


Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints


Rattle off the top five receivers in the NFL, right now, off the top of your head.

Was Michael Thomas in there? No? Well, he should be.

No wideout in the league makes it more apparent that he feels disrespected than Thomas, who has a valid gripe. But in between spending time on Twitter talking about it, Thomas speaks with his actions on the field.

He shouted loud enough to bring down the walls of Jericho on Sunday.

Thomas set a Saints single-game receiving record Sunday in a huge win over the previously undefeated Los Angeles Rams, catching 12 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. His last was the most important, and one that inspired him to pay homage to the aforementioned Horn.

In between, he torched Rams corner Marcus Peters on multiple occasions, even driving Peters to admit he's been playing poorly as of late.

"Like I said, I've had a bad couple of weeks you feel me? I own up to that and I step up to thatk," he said, via the Rams' official website. I'm a top [expletive] corner in this league and I ain't been playing like that. You can put that on me."

Meanwhile, Thomas made his strongest case yet to be considered a top receiver. His Twitter handle is @Cantguardmike, and for good reason: Most can't guard him.

With Thomas playing at a premier level, and the Saints coming together at the midway point of the season, here's a number nugget to consider, via our own James Palmer:

He's on pace to obliterate the previous mark, and lead the Saints' offense to more glory. Ice up, son.

Also considered ...


Defense, Minnesota Vikings


After five weeks, all we heard about when it came to the Vikings was how their defense was in trouble -- serious trouble.

You'd never know it if you watched them in Week 9.

Minnesota harassed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford all afternoon, frequently collapsing the pocket on the quarterback and closing his throwing windows faster than usual. The Vikings were relentless in their pursuit, which paid off when Stafford was slow to release and attempted to buy time with his feet.

He instead became quite familiar with the turf inside U.S. Bank Stadium -- 10 times, in fact.

Danielle Hunter led the way with 3.5 sacks, Tom Johnson was close behind with 2.5, Everson Griffen added 1.5, Stephen Weatherly sacked Stafford once in a battle of attrition, Sheldon Richardson got a piece of a sack and even Mackensie Alexander got in on the fun with a well-timed blitz that gave him an unabated path to the quarterback.

They were unstoppable in Week 9, and left the Lions circling their wagons to figure out what went wrong with their usually reliable line. So much for all of that concern in Minneapolis.


Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers


When I was tasked with writing a few reasons why you should watch Raiders-49ers -- a game between two teams with as many participants as wins combined -- I dug deep to find some intrigue. It was there: a matchup of achieving tight ends, the final Battle of the Bay, Terrell Owens getting his ring, pro football on a weeknight ...

But I never expected this, even from a fellow Nick.

Mullens looked nothing like the rookie he is in his debut, making decisive throws and carving up the Oakland defense to the tune of 262 yards, three touchdowns, a 72.7 completion percentage and a passer rating of 151.9. That's the stuff of legend, but for Mullens, it was just a Thursday night.

A battle between two one-win teams has rarely exhibited such a clear difference in ability. And the most stunning detail of it all was that it was Mullens at the controls, spinning it like he'd done so for years. The eye test wouldn't have given you even a hint that it was his first game.

It made for a one-sided contest that remarkably was still thrilling, because of the Mullens factor. And it even earned him another start -- and support from fellow Southern Miss product Brett Favre.

Not a bad week.

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