Nearly three-decades ago, a second-year Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards in a single season. That number would be threatened over the last twenty-seven years - but no one would be able to overcome it. In fact, in 2008, the New Orleans' Saints quarterback Drew Brees would become only the second quarterback to ever break the 5,000 yard mark, coming up 15 yards short of Marino. But, that all changed last night when Brees threw for 307 yards, giving him 5.087 yards on the season, and pushing Marino into second place in the record book.
This season, like none before, found Marino under assault from multiple sources. The New England Patriots' Tom Brady sits at 4,897 yards with a game to go. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is at 4,643 yards through Week 16, and New York Giants passer Eli Manning currently has 4,587 passing yards. But, last night was all about Brees.
From the start of the game, it was evident the Saints' game plan was to break the record at home on Monday Night Football. Brees came out throwing deep and throwing often. The strategy bit him early, as he threw two interceptions, and seemed out of rhythm. But, you don't end up being the single-season passing leader, and have two 5,000 yard seasons, without being able to bounce back from a slow start. And, bounce back Brees did.
He finished the game with a stat line of 23-for-29, 307 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. But, it's the last pass, his 23rd completion and 4th touchdown which everyone will remember. Late in the fourth quarter, with just 30 yards standing between him and Marino, and the game already decided, Brees came back into the game, and quickly engineered the record breaking pass play. Needing 6-yards, Brees threw a 9 yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles, who spiked the ball before running to Brees and hoisting him up in the air.
Tight end Jimmy Graham secured the ball and returned it to the record-setting quarterback.
Interestingly, both Brees' mark and Marino's mark were set on Monday Night Football.
Brees has one more game to increase his passing yardage. The Saints can claim the second seed in the NFC with a win and a San Francisco 49ers loss in Week 17. The Saints head to Carolina to face the Panthers, and with the game meaning something, and with Brady within striking distance (currently 190 yards behind Brees), you can beat the Saints will come out looking to get Brees the yardage needed to maintain the record.
Congratulations to Brees on setting the new mark, although it will forever be a bitter-sweet moment watching another Dan Marino record fall.