With Drew Brees a mere 30 yards away from breaking the single-season passing yards record, Saints coach Sean Payton was presented with an interesting dilemma.
Brees was playing on "Monday Night Football" in front of his home fans and a national TV audience, a perfect stage to take down Dan Marino's 27-year old record. But the Saints also had their game against the Falcons well in hand, up 38-16 with less than three minutes to play.
Payton decided to let Brees air it out, and the rest is history. Brees set the record on a 9-yard touchdown strike to running back Darren Sproles that ballooned New Orleans' lead up to 29 points.
"No need for that," one player said, according to CBSSports.com. "It came on our watch, but it didn't have to come that way. We won't forget it."
Payton -- clearly aware of the hot-button nature of his decision -- addressed the issue head-on.
"Someone is going to ask this question, so I am going to answer it before it's asked," Payton said during his postgame media session. "Typically, would I be throwing it there? The answer would be probably not. In fact, the answer would be 'I wouldn't be.' But I thought it was appropriate that we get the record. And we did it. We have a ton of respect for (Falcons coach) Mike (Smith), his staff and his players. It seemed like the right thing to do. I felt real good about the decision."
You can guarantee the unnamed player who said the Falcons won't forget it was referring to something more immediate than next season. The Falcons, like the Saints, are playoff bound, and Atlanta can easily end up back in the Superdome in a couple weeks. Never underestimate the motivational power of a good chip on the shoulder.