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As an expansion team in 1967, the Saints' franchise started slowly. New Orleans fans had to wait until 1986 to see their Saints post a winning record. The Saints' streak of 20 straight seasons without a winning record is the longest such streak in NFL history. The Bengals (1991 to 2004) and Buccaneers (1983 to 1996) are tied for the second-longest streak with 14 straight seasons. In 1987, the Saints finally snapped the streak and made the playoffs for the first time, losing to the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round. New Orleans' first playoff victory didn't come until the new millennium, when they beat the Rams 31-28 in the wild-card game -- 33 years after the Saints' inaugural season.
In 1970, Tom Dempsey set the bar high for kickers as he booted a 63-yard field goal with only half a foot. The man nicknamed "Stumpy" set an NFL record that wouldn't be matched for 28 years. Dempsey's record first was tied in 1998 when Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos booted a 63 yarder against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and again in 2011 when Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders blasted one against the Broncos. Both Elam and Janikowski's field goals came at the end of the first half, while Dempsey's kick was a walkoff propelling the Saints to a 19-17 victory in Detroit.
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Morten Andersen is the greatest kicker in NFL history as he holds almost every kicking record. Andersen spent 13 of his 25 seasons in New Orleans and set records for most games played (382) and most points scored in consecutive games (360). In his lengthy career, Andersen also set the career marks with 2,544 points and 565 field goals made. His 565 field goals included 40 from beyond 50 yards, which is third-best in NFL history.
National Football League
A Special Day in New Orleans
October 23, 1994 was a special day in New Orleans for special teamers. Saints return man, Tyrone Hughes set the NFL record with 347 total return yards including a record 304 yards on kickoff returns. Hughes' 304 kickoff return yards came on seven returns, returning two for touchdowns, which tied the NFL record. His two scores helped propel the Saints to a 37-34 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. This special day was punctuated on the final score of the game when Robert Bailey of the opposing Rams returned a punt 103 yards, the longest punt return in NFL history.
Best Offense/Worst Defense
The Saints made history in back-to-back seasons on both sides of the ball. In 2011, Drew Brees led the offense to an NFL record 7,474 total yards as the Saints broke the record of 7,075 yards originally set by the "greatest show on turf" that was led by Kurt Warner. The Saints followed up their record setting offense in 2011 by posting the worst defense in NFL history in 2012. The 2012 Saints are the only team to ever allow more than 7,000 yards, as they allowed a record 7,042 total yards. That equates to 440.1 yards per game.
Saints head coach Sean Payton served two stints on the San Diego State coaching staff in the late 80s and early 90s. During his second go-around with the Aztecs, Payton was the running backs coach, working with NFL Network's own Marshall Faulk, the 1992 Heisman Trophy runner-up. In 2011, New Orleans signed dynamic RB Darren Sproles, who must have reminded Payton of the running back he'd coached 20 years prior. In his first season with the team, Sproles gained an NFL record 2,696 yards, his fourth straight season with over 2,000 yards -- matching Faulk's record for most consecutive seasons with 2,000-plus yards gained.
Offense Doesn't Always Win Championships
In 2011, the Saints set an NFL record with 7,474 yards of total offense. However, their season came to an end in the NFC Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers, who forced New Orleans into a season-high five turnovers. It turns out having one of the top offenses isn't all it's cracked up to be. The 2009 Saints finished with 6,461 total net yards of offense, which was the 19th highest total all time -- the highest of any eventual Super Bowl Champion. Last season, the Saints and Lions had the second- and third-ranked total offense, but both finished with a losing record.
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Drew Brees is the only player in NFL history to throw for 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons, including back-to-back 5,000-yard campaigns in 2011 and 2012. However, he's no one-trick pony. In 2011 -- when he threw for an NFL record 5,476 yards -- Brees also set another NFL record. That year, Brees completed 71.2 percent of his passes, besting a record he'd already set in 2009, giving him the two most accurate seasons in NFL history.
Since 2000, every passer under Saints head coach Sean Payton's guidance has thrown for over 3,000 yards. In addition to Brees -- who's done so every season since 2006 -- the three starting quarterbacks Payton's worked with -- Drew Bledsoe in 2005, Vinny Testaverde in 2004 and Quincy Carter in 2003 -- all surpassed the milestone. While in New York, Giants QB Kerry Collins accomplished the feat every season from 2000 to 2002.
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Last season, Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas' record for most consecutive games with a TD pass, doing so in 54 straight games. However, it wasn't the only touchdown record broken by Brees in 2012. Over the last five seasons (from 2008 to 2012) Brees has thrown 190 TD passes, an average of 38 per year. The NFL record over a five-year span is 190 touchdowns, besting the previous high of 176, accomplished most recently by Brett Favre from 1994 to 1998.