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Saints earn first win as Brees breaks Unitas record

Devery Henderson hauls in the record-breaker, a 40-yard pass from Drew Brees to break Johnny Unitas' consecutive games with a touchdown pass streak (Photo: Parker Waters).Devery Henderson hauls in the record-breaker, a 40-yard pass from Drew Brees to break Johnny Unitas' consecutive games with a touchdown pass streak (Photo: Parker Waters).

San Diego 7 10 7 0 24
New Orleans « 7 7 7 10 31
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New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees broke a 52-year-old record in the first quarter and then orchestrated a 10-point comeback in the second half as the New Orleans Saints downed the San Diego Chargers, 31-24, on Sunday.

Brees completed 29-of-45 passes for 370 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.

He has now thrown a touchdown pass in 48 straight games, snapping Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas' mark of 47 that had held since 1960.

Marques Colston caught nine balls for 131 yards and three scores, while Devery Henderson had eight receptions for 123 yards and a score for the Saints (1-4), who avoided their first 0-5 start in 16 years.

Philip Rivers went 27-for-42 through the air for 354 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for San Diego (3-2), which was looking to go 3-0 on the road this season.

Ryan Mathews carried the ball 12 times for 80 yards and a score, and added 59 yards on six receptions in defeat.

The Saints received the ball to start the third quarter trailing 17-14, but Quentin Jammer was able to intercept a tipped Brees pass on the third play from scrimmage and return it to the New Orleans 25, resulting in Mathews' 13- yard touchdown run off the left side.

San Diego seemed to have increased its lead late in the third when Demorrio Williams intercepted a Brees pass and returned it for a touchdown, but Melvin Ingram was called for a roughing the passer penalty on the play to give the ball back to New Orleans.

The Saints capitalized on the call as Pierre Thomas' 36-yard gain on a screen pass set up Colston's 16-yard score, bringing New Orleans back within 24-21 with 11 seconds left in the third.

The Saints took the ball back at their own 10-yard line following a San Diego three-and-out, and Brees led a 9-play drive that saw just one third down to take the lead, connecting with Colston on a 5-yard jump ball on the left side of the end zone with 8:50 remaining in the game.

Faced with a 3rd-and-18 at their own 41-yard line on the Chargers ensuing drive, Roman Harper settled under a deflected Rivers pass and returned it 41 yards down to the San Diego 23.

New Orleans would manage just one first down, though, and were held to a 26- yard field goal by Garrett Hartley to keep it a one-possession game with 2:56 left.

The Chargers quickly moved the ball past midfield on their next possession before a sack and a couple of offensive holding penalties put the team in a 2nd-and-37 hole.

The Saints bailed San Diego out with an illegal use of hands penalty that resulted in a fresh set of downs, and Rivers connected on four straight passes to move the ball to the New Orleans 33-yard line.

But Rivers then had the ball slapped out of his hands during a sack by Martez Wilson, who recovered the ball with 14 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Chargers struck first on their second possession of the game as Rivers twice found Malcom Floyd down the right sideline for gains of 39 and 32 yards to move the ball deep into Saints' territory before Robert Meachem stole the ball away from a defender during a 15-yard touchdown grab on the left side of the end zone.

New Orleans answered with Brees' record-breaking score to knot the game at 7-7.

After converting a pair of third downs with completions of 12 yards to Colston and 13 yards to Greg Camarillo, Brees found a wide open Henderson deep down the right sideline on a 3rd-and-6 at the San Diego 40 and he raced into the end zone with 6:56 remaining in the first quarter.

San Diego later regained the ball at its own 35-yard line less than a minute into the second quarter and quickly moved across midfield with a 12-yard run by Mathews and an 11-yard reception by Eddie Royal.

A defensive pass interference penalty on Jabari Greer moved the ball down to the New Orleans 6-yard line, but the Chargers could not punch the ball across the goal line and were forced to settle for Nick Novak's 20-yard field goal.

However, the lead was short lived again as Colston reeled off a 40-yard catch- and-run across the middle before capping a 7-play, 80-yard drive with a 19- yard grab in the back of the end zone with 7:19 remaining in the half.

Novak was wide left on a 55-yard field-goal attempt on San Diego's next touch, but the Chargers were able to go back on top following a New Orleans punt when Rivers connected with Meachem on a 44-yard score to finish off a 4-play, 86- yard march, making it a 17-14 game at the break.

Game Notes

Brees hasn't had a game without a TD pass since Oct. 4, 2009 against the New York Jets ... Floyd finished with 108 yards on five receptions ... San Diego leads the all-time series between the teams, 7-4 ... The Saints went 9-for-16 on third downs, while San Diego was 4-for-12 ... The Chargers totaled 427 yards of offense, compared to 404 for New Orleans.




* Sunday's victory was the 300th regular-season win in Saints' franchise history. New Orleans is now 300-390-5 in its 46th season in the NFL.

* QB Drew Brees completed 29 of 45 passes for 370 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 110.4.

* Brees' 40-yard touchdown pass to WR Devery Henderson with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter extended his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 48, breaking a tie with Johnny Unitas for the longest streak in NFL history. Unitas' record lasted 52 seasons.

* The record-setting touchdown pass was the 292nd of Brees' career, moving him into sole possession of seventh place on the NFL's career list for touchdown passes and breaking a tie with Warren Moon.

* In his 100th game as a Saint, Brees surpassed 30,000 yards passing in his Saints career on his third-quarter touchdown pass to WR Marques Colston. Brees now has 30,114 yards passing in a Saints uniform.

* Brees has 54 games of 300 yards or more in seven seasons as a Saint, including four this season.

* Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 90 of his 100 starts.

* Brees extended his NFL-record streak of games with 20 or more completions to 41.

* Colston had nine receptions for 131 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdown receptions. He previously had three TD catches on Oct. 28, 2007, at San Francisco, which was also the last three-TD catch game for a Saint.

* Colston now sits atop the Saints' all-time list for career touchdown receptions with 52. He entered Sunday one TD catch behind Joe Horn, but tied and later passed him. In touchdowns scored, Colston ranks third, trailing only Deuce McAllister (55) and Dalton Hilliard (53).

* Colston has 22 career 100-yard receiving games, including each of the last two weeks. It's his first back-to-back 100-yard games since the 2011 season (11/21 vs. Seattle and 11/25 at Dallas).

* Henderson had a season-high eight receptions for 123 yards, his tenth career 100-yard game. He had six receptions through the first four games of the season.

* Henderson became the fifth player in Saints history to reach double figures in 100-yard receiving games, joining Horn (27), Colston (22), Eric Martin (18) and Danny Abramowicz (10).

* With Colston and Henderson each having at least eight receptions, 120 receiving yards and a touchdown, it's the first time in franchise history two receivers have put up those numbers in the same game.

* WR Greg Camarillo had his first reception as a Saint on the team's first offensive possession. Camarillo played against Carolina and Kansas City but did not have a catch. Camarillo finished with four receptions for 44 yards.

* DE Will Smith's second-quarter sack was his second of the season and upped his career total to 63.5. His career sack total ranks fourth in franchise history.

* LB Curtis Lofton led the team with 10 tackles (nine solo), his fourth straight game reaching double figures in total tackles. Lofton's third-quarter sack was his first as a Saint.

* S Roman Harper had his fifth career interception, but his first since 2010, in the fourth quarter.

* DE Martez Wilson's game-clinching sack/fumble was his second career sack and his first career forced fumble and fumble recovery. 




“Obviously (it was) a good win for the New Orleans Saints, for the fans, the ownership and the guys that were in visiting tonight that weren’t allowed to be on the sidelines. It’s a historic night, Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas’ record. It’s one of the longest standing records in professional sports. Marques Colston breaking Joe Horn’s 50 touchdown receptions record. It was just a good night all around. 

“I’ve stood up here for four weeks and talked about the team staying together. I’ve talked about guys not giving up and getting better. I said we were close; we had to get over the edge. We brought our climbing shoes to walk to climb that mountain and we did it tonight. It’s just one game but it’s a monkey off our back and it’s a good night for a win with all these historic records being broken. I am happy for our team and I am happy for everyone involved, but it’s just a start.” 

(on struggling a little in the third quarter but getting the level back up in the fourth) “Every game has ebb and flow. We didn’t come out at halftime as strong as we liked, but we trusted ourselves and we trusted each other to overcome that and play very strong in the fourth quarter to win that game. You look at the touchdowns that we score, but you have to give credit to our defense today getting pressure on the quarterback. He (Philip Rivers) had a hard time standing in there and throwing the football. As the game went on and we watched that last drive, the front four did a wonderful job getting after the quarterback and that is what made a difference in the game.” 

(on the momentum swing with the roughing the passer call reversing the Drew Brees interception) “There is such a fine line between a successful play and a failure and obviously with the pressure he (Brees) had in his face that is why he threw that ball poorly. He wouldn’t do that if he wasn’t (under pressure) and the foul obviously caused that ball to be thrown like that. I am proud of the team, the organization and Mr. Benson for just staying strong and understanding that this thing was a slow process to start, but we really feel like we are going to get this thing together. We get a week off next week, get some rest with the bye week and continue this thing moving on.” 

(on Pierre Thomas injecting life into the team tonight) “Pierre Thomas has a tendency to inject life into a team. You throw him a screen pass and he does a great job of setting up the blocks. You hand the football to him and he will make guys miss and gain yards after the first hit. He has been a good player for us and we have to continue to get him the football.” 

(on what this win will do moving forward) “We’ve talked about it for the last three weeks and as we talked with the team we knew we were close. We knew we were close to getting a win and there were little things hurting us. We talked about coming out and playing more physical than the other team today and letting the score happen. When you watch the pass rush at the end of the game and you watch the guys battling up front on both sides of the ball, we play physical and got us a win.” 




(on his reaction to the record he set this evening) “It’s unbelievable. I just tried to take in the moment a little bit after the game, walking around the locker room and sharing that with my teammates, guys that are obviously as big a part of this record as anyone. I think the amazing thing about a record like this is that it spans over the course of, really, four seasons and hopefully we can keep it going for a while. But you talk about the ’09 team, ’10, ’11 and now ’12, there are so many people that are a part of this. That is another reason why I felt it so important to have Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt in the building as well. They had a chance to share in that moment too. The namesake or the guy that held this record for 52 years, Johnny Unitas, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in this game, really revolutionized the position, everything that he stood for as a player, just a pioneer of this game. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s humbling. (It is) certainly a record that we all very much appreciate.” 

(on if it is better with a win?) “No question. I guess you really couldn’t have written a better script for tonight, to break the record, to get the win, in the fashion in which we won, really a complete team effort all the way around. (The) Chargers take the ten-point lead and then we come back as an offense, scored two consecutive touchdowns and the defense gets a big turnover and we get the field goal and special teams comes up with the tackle on the kickoff and the defense comes up with a big stop and it was just back and forth, but whoever needed to come up with the play on our side made the play, whether it was offense, defense or special teams and that is a complete team win.” 

(on the roughing-the-passer call in third quarter that negated a potential interception return for a touchdown and that serving as a turning point) “Well previously to that, they had tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage and therefore it ended up being behind Devery (Henderson) and the Devery tipped it and then they got it so they got seven points. You felt like man momentum had kind of swung in their direction. They scored at the end of the second quarter going into halftime and then they scored again on a turnover. We get the penalty obviously, that negates their interception, then we go down and immediately touchdown and then come right back and then touchdown. Certainly, I think for us that we knew offensively that we needed to make something happen and we were able to rattle off two touchdown drives which really swung the momentum back to our side and we were able to keep it. 

(on the second half run-pass balance) “I felt like we really got the tempo going and we just locked in on what we needed to do. Yeah, it was a great mix of the run and the pass and everyone involved, everyone making plays. I’d say that certainly that was the best that we have felt as an offensive probably this whole season.” 

(on the record-setting touchdown going to Devery Henderson) “Pretty fitting that a guy who’s been here and been through so much with this organization (is who it went to). Devery’s been here for nine years. He was a part of the ’04 and ’05 (clubs), the Katrina year, and then coming back in ’06 and really been a part of the storybook ever since. He’s been a mainstay in that receiving corps, really one of the unsung heroes, I’d say. Obviously, there are certain guys that get a lot of attention in this offense, and typically he’s not one of them, but he certainly deserves it. I can’t think of a better guy for this to go to. 

“Ironically - I didn’t think about this until it was just mentioned to me be by Joe Unitas, who I just saw before walking in here – No. 19, Devery Henderson, catches the record-breaking touchdown. (Johnny Unitas wore No. 19 for the Baltimore Colts.)” 

(on if he spoke to Sean Payton?) “I did. I just had the chance to see him. It was great to see him. He looks good. Obviously, I felt like this night wouldn’t have been the same without him in the building. And Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt. To have all those guys (here) and to spend a little time with them, to share in the historic moment, was special.” 

(on the touchdown that started the streak) “I’m going to say Giants, Jeremy Shockey, 2009. Fire 82 X Banana.” 

(on Marques Colston and Devery Henderson stepping up with Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore hurt) “It just speaks volumes about those guys, their ability to step it up when obviously they knew we were light with Jimmy being out for that period of time in the second half and obviously Lance being down this game. Those guys stepped up and did tremendous. Marques has been another mainstay in this offense for a long time, him and Devery. Just couldn’t be happier for both of them – obviously, Marques setting the Saints receiving touchdown record tonight, passing Joe Horn. Joe Horn would be proud. Joe and Marques had time together, we all did back in ’06. Well deserved on Marques Colston.” 

(on plans for record setting ball) “I haven’t gotten that far. (I’m) definitely going to be sending something to the Hall of Fame. More than likely it’ll be that ball. Like I said, I haven’t thought of it. There’s a lot of people I’d 

like to give a lot of game balls to that were a part of this. Certainly, something that could be enshrined in history for other people to see and share in is also important too. They will definitely be getting something.” 

(on the significance of the win before the bye week) “I guess there’s two ways to look at it. One is … we got this first win, it’s the best we’ve played, we’ve steadily improved each and every week, even though some of those earlier games didn’t result in wins. We feel like we’re progressing the way we want to. Now you feel like you’re rolling and you just want to go right back to work and go get another one. There’s also the mindset that … we’re a little banged up, so let’s get some guys healthy, let’s regroup and let’s come back off this bye ready to get on a roll here.” 

(on if the deep pass was an in-game adjustment or from preparation during the week?) “We knew we were going to do that during the week. That’s film study, that’s preparation by our coaching staff and our players. You’ve got a lot of those calls throughout the course of the game and it’s really just the right time to call it. It all came together the way it was supposed to – perfect timing, perfect guy running it, perfect defensive look, and we were able to get a big touchdown on a critical third down.” 

(on his reaction to a congratulatory tweet from Roger Goodell) “Just thank you.” 

(on the difference between setting this record and the single-season passing yardage record where he passed Dan Marino) “The Marino record, obviously, that’s one season, that body of work. Whereas this record has this record has stretched over four seasons. There are so many people that are involved in this, many more. It’s not the end of it. Hopefully, we can keep this rolling for a while. Also, when we set the single-season passing mark last year, it was right at the end of the game, a game that was well in hand, we knew we had won. It was easier to kind of celebrate. This one, you’re in the first quarter of a very important game. You’ve just got to reel in your emotions and then get ready to go out there and you’ve got a lot of football left to play. I didn’t get to enjoy this one at that moment as much as the Marino one. I guess we’ve got the bye week to do that.” 

(on the character of the team) “We’ve got great character, great leadership on this team among the players, among the coaches – really a testament to Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis, for building the foundation we have here. You do that because … there are going to be tough times, there is going to be adversity. While you never want to start off 0-4, if you do, you’ve got the right guys in the locker room to turn that thing around and certainly not turn on each other. That’s never something that we would do. We understand we have a little bit of a mountain to climb here. One step at a time, one rock at a time. We got the right people in the locker room, and that makes you feel you always have a chance.” 



SAINTS QUARTERBACK DREW BREES (excerpts from NBC postgame interview) 

“We finally put together a complete team effort for all four quarters. We’ve hung together, and hopefully this is the first of many wins.” 

(on record) “There’s so many things. First of all, it’s a team record. So many people are responsible for this. Johnny Unitas stands for everything that’s great about this league. It couldn’t have happened in a better way.” 

(on Sean Payton being in building) “He gave us some good mojo, for sure. I’m so glad he could be here, and (with) Mickey (Loomis) and Joe (Vitt). I love my coach. It’s special they could be a part of this night. I’m overcome with emotion right now.” 



(on catching the record breaking touchdown pass from Drew Brees) “It was a great feeling. We knew that we wanted to be a part of it going into this game. I know every guy in the receiving corps would have loved to have caught that ball. Most importantly, Drew got it done. It’s a historic compliment to him.” 

(on being wide open during the historic catch) “It was a double move route. I was so wide open coming out of the route that I hoped he saw me. I knew once he threw it out that I would catch it. When the play was called, I had it in my mind that this could be the play and I could be a part of history. Drew and I connected and it turned out pretty well.” 

(on the conversation between Drew and himself after the touchdown) “It was a crazy moment at the time. I was too busy trying to get him the touchdown ball. It feels good to be part of it. It was a great accomplishment for him. He deserved the ball, so I was just trying to get him the ball.” 


(on if he interacted with Joe Horn prior to breaking his club record for career touchdown receptions) “I hadn’t spoken to him leading up to the record, but I have a feeling that I will be speaking to him soon. Joe was a guy that took me under his wing. I have a lot of respect for him as a player and as a person. I look forward to speaking to him.” 

(on tonight’s game and where the team is at heading into the bye) “This is the first game of the year where we played complete team football for 60 minutes. It feels really good going into the bye. We didn’t think we would be where we are at this point of the season, but it is what it is. We have a great opportunity to get some rest and to go to Tampa Bay and get win number two.” 


(on if the offensive players talked about Drew breaking the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass this week) “You didn’t hear too many guys talk about it. Every guy hoped that they got that opportunity. I’m glad Devery (Henderson) got it. Our main focus was to get a win. That was our main focus. We were struggling in the past games and we needed to turn this thing around. We just have to move forward from now.” 

(on the running game in the second half) “We just have to keep pounding it. Not every play is going to work. Sometimes you get a 10, 15 or 20 yard run and other times you might get a two or three yard run. You just have to keep pounding it. Eventually something will break loose if you keep doing it. I thought I had to do my best to establish that in the second half. In the back of my head, I kept telling myself that nobody was going to take me down. I just wanted to keep my legs going to make something happen. If I can show that to my coaches and my teammates, then maybe that will inspire them. I told our running backs that we have to establish something in the second half. We had to do whatever it takes to establish the run to set up the passing game. We just needed to be more balanced and that’s what we did in the second half.” 


(on getting his first win as a Saint) “It feels great to get that monkey off that back. It really felt great as a defense to be out on the field to seal the win for us.” 

(on if they made any halftime adjustments) “No, early on we gave up a couple of big passes. The guys buckled down and did their job. We shut them down in the second half.” 

(on what he told his teammates during the last drive) “I was telling the guys to bite down. There was 39 seconds left. I told them to give me everything that you got for the last 39 seconds. The defensive line showed up big. Everyone complemented each other. The secondary had great coverage and the defensive line got to the quarterback. You are going to win a lot of games if you can do that.” 


(on his fourth quarter interception) “We won the game, so it makes it a little better. I have to thank Malcolm (Jenkins) because he made a great play on the ball. He was there a little early and just waited on it. He tipped it up and I was there luckily.” 




“As we prepared for this game, we looked at their last four games. Each game was very similar to this. These are games that were back-and-forth. These were games that were decided by a couple of plays in the fourth quarter. I thought, through a lot of the game, we handled the circumstances pretty well. There were some things that cost us a pretty big deal late in the game. They are outstanding offensively, and they made plays when they had to.” 

(on what stood out on the final drive of the game for his team) “Just our guys and the way they fight and compete. I’m not going to get into it, but we had a couple of plays called back that I thought were good plays. That’s the way this game is. It comes down to one or two plays. If we get a couple of those plays, I think we have time to maybe take a couple of shots at the end zone. Obviously the play with (Antonio) Gates that was called back was a big play.” 

(on Ryan Mathews’ performance) “I thought Ryan really played well. He played physical; he played fast. I thought he did a good job when he was in there. And the protection part of it, with the ‘11’ personnel and nickel people, I think he’s doing the things we need him to do.” 

(on Melvin Ingram’s late-game penalty) “Obviously it was a critical play. We as a group, we are new to each other. We have some young guys and we are going to be an outstanding team. There’s no question in my mind because of the way this group works at it, and how badly they want to be (good). You can’t make those kinds of errors, and we will learn from them. 

(on Robert Meachem’s performance) “He’s had opportunities, but we’ve been off. We have missed him a little bit and the ball has gone other places. When he’s had those opportunities I think the way the coverage came up, the looks we got, we were able to get him the ball.” 

(on his play-calling on second and goal from the two-yard line) “It really wasn’t something from the scouting report, it was how they (Saints defense) played us. They came in, and they do an outstanding job of mixing up, we caught a coverage when we ran the ball on first down. They ran a max-blitz on second down which is pretty good for them. We got to what I thought was the right pass and Philip just underthrew it a little bit. When you get to third and two, you’re going to make decisions (based) on what’s the best thing in that situation against what you’re getting.” 

(on the emotion of this game and how it might have affected the outcome) “I think it’s easy, after the fact, to say that. I don’t think anyone would’ve said that at halftime. I thought our guys handled the environment. They handled the things that were happening in terms of what New Orleans was doing. I thought we were playing fast, very aggressive. I thought we played that way the entire game. As I said, you can go through a game and when we go back and look at it, guys were asking me about some calls already. They go your way or don’t happen. In the red zone, they kicked (a) field goal and we were held to a field goal down there. Again, sometimes you don’t make the play you’d like to make and you kick a field goal.” 





“I can’t tell you how tough it is to lose a game like this. I mean we were right there. We were up by 10 points and just didn’t get it done. We have a great team, a championship caliber team. But we have to win close games like this. Once we do that – I mean win a game, win a division and learn from it – that’s what it takes to win a championship. And this team is that close, believe me. All of you guys know I hate losing, but the way we fought and fought out there is something good. It’s something I’m even happy about, even though we lost.” 

(on end of the game drive): “I mean, those final calls under two minutes could have gone either way. It was frustrating to hit Antonio (Gates) on the 20-something yard line and have it called back because of a penalty. But we just didn’t execute. I mean we had the ball with three timeouts left with decent field position. But we just didn’t get it done.” 

(on Drew Brees breaking the record): “I’m very happy for him. I know him and I am proud of him. It couldn’t happen to a better player and person. The way he prepares and approaches the game is great. And I told him that right after the game.” 


“It was great to come back here and play well. I mean, it’s great that I caught two touchdowns, but the final result was we lost. We fought hard as a team and we had plenty of chances to win this game. But we just didn’t get it done. While the offense executed real well most of the game, in the fourth quarter we couldn’t end it like we wanted to.” 

(on Drew Brees’ record) “I was really proud of him. As you guys know I was the receiver on some of his touchdowns the last few years so it was good to see him do that tonight in front of their home crowd.” 


“It’s real tough for us to leave here with a loss. Our offensive line did a great job throughout the whole game opening up holes and I ran through them to control the game. There was that one drive in early in the game where we were in the red zone and we didn’t score (a touchdown) and kicked a field goal. We have to do a better job in the red zone.” 


(on his interception) “I was in the right place at the right time on that one interception. I felt that was a big play, to make the play to give us the momentum early.” 

“I thought our defense played great tonight. Of course they had some big plays. If we could have taken that away then the score would have been in our favor.”


Saints Team Information