Brees, Saints continue assault on offensive records

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints set an NFL record for the most yards of offense in a season on Sunday, while Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning's 2010 mark for single-season completions.

The 2000 St. Louis Rams held the previous net yardage mark of 7,075. New Orleans eclipsed that in the second quarter of Sunday's season finale against the Carolina Panthers on a pass from Brees to Robert Meachem before finishing with 7,474.

Brees also wound up completing 71.2 percent of his passes for the season, eclipsing his own 2009 record of 70.6.

Brees completed 28 of 35 passes for 389 yards, giving him 468 completions, which easily broke Peyton Manning's record 250 completions last season.

In the third quarter, Brees surpassed 300 yards passing for the seventh straight game and 13th time this season, both NFL records he already held and simply extended.

Having broken Dan Marino's 27-year-old single-season record 5,084 yards passing last week, Brees maintained the record by increasing his final season total to 5,476 yards, 241 yards ahead of New England's Tom Brady, who became only the third NFL quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season.

The Saints closed out 2011 with 5,347 net yards passing, another NFL record, again topping the 2000 Rams, who passed for 5,232. New Orleans' team completion percentage for the season of 71.3 was yet another league record, breaking the mark of 70.7 set by the 1982 Cincinnati Bengals in a strike-shortened season.

Darren Sproles had 40 yards rushing, 29 yards receiving and 99 yards on kickoff and punt returns to finish the season with an NFL record 2,969 combined yards, easily breaking the previous mark of 2,690, set by Derrick Mason with Tennessee in 2000.

Jimmy Graham caught eight passes for 97 yards, giving him 1,310 on the season, surpassing Kellen Winslow's 1980 record of 1,290 yards receiving by a tight end. However, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski finished the day with the record in his possession at 1,327 yards.

By not fumbling once against Carolina, the Saints set a league mark for fewest fumbles in a season with six.

They also had 416 first downs for the season, 18 more than the previous record set by Kansas City in 2004.

With their 45-17 victory over the Panthers, New Orleans boosted its season point total to 547, smashing the 2009 franchise record of 510. The Saints' 2011 point total ranks third in NFL history. New England holds that record with 589 points in 2007.

Combined with Chris Ivory's TD run, Brees' five scoring passes gave the Saints 66 touchdowns on the season, surpassing the 2009 club record of 64.

Brees' 46 touchdown passes are a franchise record and led the NFL this season, one ahead of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who did not play in the Packers' season finale.

Saints punter Thomas Morstead broke his own franchise record of 45.9 yards per punt last year with an average of 47.9 this season.

Other club records for a season included yards per play (6.7), yards per rush (4.9), fewest turnovers (19), punting average (46.9) and third-down conversions (118).

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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