New Orleans Saints: NFC South title, Drew Brees, the better show on turf?


The New Orleans Saints are once again NFC South champions after a 45-16 shellacking of the division rival Atlanta Falcons last night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

It’s the second time in three years the Saints have become champions, and the third time since Drew Brees and Sean Payton came on board the once struggling franchise in 2006.

New Orleans put together an all-around game — beating the Falcon on special teams, defense, and offense — while scoring five touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rush) and netting 463 yards of offense.

But the real story of the game was the feat accomplished by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who finally broke Dan Marino’s long standing single season passing record after coming just sixteen yards shy in 2008.

Brees needed only 305 yards entering the game to surpass Marino, a task that was assumed considering he had been averaging 341 yards a game.

After a first half where he threw for 230 yards the record was all but his, but things slowed for him and the Saints offense in the second half —  and it seemed that maybe the record would stand one more week.

Then after a second failed fourth down conversion by the Falcons late in the fourth quarter the Saints took over the ball on their own 33 yard line. The irony of course is that Brees, at that point, needed only 30 yards to tie Marino.

He then threw for 32 of the drives 33 yards ending with a nine yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles. Just like that Brees now held the new passing record with 5,087 yards, and he still has one game left to play.

While it seems likely that he will be joined by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in reaching Marino, as Brady needs only 187 yards to match, Brees will always be the first, and will likely hold the “new” record when his yardage from week 17 is included in his season total.

Brees has now thrown for more yards than any quarterback in the league, has completed a higher percentage of his passes than any quarterback in the league, and has set more records (300 yard games, 20 or more completions in multiple games, at least one touchdown pass per game) than any quarterback in the league.

The Packers Aaron Rodgers has had a phenomenal season, but Brees couldn’t do anymore to earn the NFL’s MVP award.

Lost in all the hype of Brees catching Marino is the fact that the entire Saints offense is on pace to supercede the marks set by the 2000 Rams — aka “The Greatest Show on Turf” — which is still considered by many as the greatest offense of all time.

Lead by quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk the Rams scored 540 points (33.8 points per game), averaged 23.8 first downs a game, and set a record for total yards in a season that still stands today with 7,075 yards (442 yards per game).

New Orleans is on pace to break all these numbers. Through fifteen games they have scored 502 points (33.5 points per game), 25.8 first downs a game, and have 6,856.5 total yards. Quick math tells us that the Saints need only 218.5 yards or more this Sunday against the Panthers to become the “greatest” offense.

However many disagree that total yards should be the defining statistic of a great offense. Some would say it should be points scored, or how efficient they are throughout the season.

Take for instance the 2007 New England Patriots who scored 589 total points but did not total more yards than the Rams.

Anyway you look at it the Saints have a chance to re-write the history books and surpass one of the most storied NFL offenses of all time, and that has to count for something.