Drew Brees ties single-game record with 7 TD passes

Kai Forbath's 52-yard field goal to lift the Saints over the Giants, 52-49, as time expired in the Super Dome on Sunday afternoon was as powerful and clutch a kick as we've seen in the NFL this year.

It was also the worst possible end to the best football game we've seen all season.

For almost 60 minutes, we were captivated by Drew Brees, whose 505-yard, seven-touchdown performance tied an NFL single-game record for most scores thrown in a game. Eli Manning hurled a career-high six touchdown passes for more than 350 yards. The game yielded more than 1,000 total yards, 60 first downs and 800 yards passing.

This was the most productive quarterbacking duel in almost exactly 46 years. Back on Nov. 2, 1969, in a battle between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints, Billy Kilmer and Charley Johnson combined for 12 touchdown passes in what was then considered an abomination to the power game.

Sunday afternoon was a bit more artful.

"Brees had seven touchdowns. We told him the game ball is going to the kicker," Saints coach Sean Payton joked afterward.

"(Brees) just got in a rhythm. Guys did a good job separating. He's done a good job practicing playing well, and when you don't see a ball hit the ground in a while ... it's impressive."

Naysayers will point to myriad blown coverages, especially early in the game. Brees hit Willie Snead on a 34-yard flea flicker in the first quarter. His third touchdown pass came on a 53-yarder to Marques Colston, where he was passed off by two separate defenders before waltzing into zero coverage. But that was merely a subplot. In those 60 minutes, we were treated to vintage, 2011-style Brees -- a player we thought was long lost to shoulder injuries and a slowly-dying offense. For at least one afternoon, the evasive pocket presence and jump pass was back. The laser, which was evident on the flea flicker and a few other bombs where he needed the type of upper-body strength to hurl it more than half a field in the air without setting his feet, was once again a staple in New Orleans.

There was a point in the afternoon where both Brees and Manning had more touchdown passes than incompletions, and it wasn't early in the game, either. The escalating totals were a symbol of how far the game has come since that outlier matchup between the Cardinals and the Saints back in 1969, but also a look back at two of the best quarterbacks we've seen in this past decade.

"It's not about the numbers," Brees said. "Obviously that's cool to look at, goes on the stat sheet, but it's not like I came out today with the intent to break a few records just to shut some people up or whatever."

Deep in the game log, it will be forgotten that Manning hit two separate fourth-down touchdowns, including a picture-perfect loft to Dwayne Harris after his first three progressions had been blown and Manning left the pocket -- essentially declaring himself a sitting duck. That brought the Giants to within seven points with 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

The difference is that Manning -- who passed Joe Montana this afternoon to move into 10th place all-time in NFL passing touchdowns -- has already shaken off the narrative which declared him past his prime. At 34, his new contract makes plenty of sense. This game was just a reminder.

But Brees, two years older, was all but written off. This game was much more than a statement. Give him the game ball.

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