Remembering the New Orleans Saints 2011 record-filled matchup with Indy

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23: Curtis Painter #7 of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Jonathan Casillas #52 of the New Orleans Saints during a game being held at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 23, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23: Curtis Painter #7 of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Jonathan Casillas #52 of the New Orleans Saints during a game being held at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 23, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

It was Week 7 of the 2011 season, where the New Orleans Saints set several offensive records for a single-season in the NFL.

New Orleans Saints’ longtime quarterback Drew Brees surpassed Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season in Week 16 against the Atlanta Falcons and finished with 5,476 yards on the year. Brees threw 46 touchdown passes to 14 interceptions, a quarterback rating of 110.6, the second-highest of his career behind 2018 (115.7).

For reference, Brees had a quarterback rating of 109.6 in the team’s 2009 Super Bowl run, and each time he has a rating of 109.6 or higher, the Saints advanced to no less than the Divisional Round of the postseason.

Brees would win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award, as Aaron Rodgers took the league MVP Award. The Green Bay Packers ended up losing in their first playoff game to the New York Giants.

Darren Sproles set an NFL record for most all-purpose yards in a season with 2,696 yards. He had 603 rushing and 710 receiving yards.

Sproles also accumulated 1,089 kick return yards and added 294 more on punt returns, helping the Saints win the NFC South with a (13-3) record.

The New Orleans offense totaled 7,474 yards, which also set an NFL record, a reminder to Saints fans of the true glory years of Sean Payton’s play-calling.

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts limped into the Superdome without Peyton Manning, who sat on the 2011 season with a neck injury and would join the Denver Broncos the following year.

The Colts finished (2-14) and would select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

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On this Sunday night matchup, the Saints were heavy favorites with a (5-2) record compared to the Colts’ winless (0-7). Curtis Painter started under center for Indianapolis, foreshadowing an easy win for the home team.

The game began with Brees tossing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston, followed by a second one to Colston from 4 yards out to take an early 14-0 lead.

The Saints ended the first quarter with a 21-0 lead after Brees threw his third touchdown pass, this time a 6-yard score to Sproles.

In the second quarter, Jed Collins ran for a 1-yard touchdown and John Kasay kicked a 23-yard field goal to make the score 31-0 with about 4 minutes left until halftime.

The Colts responded with their only score of the game with Delone Carter punching it in from 2 yards out, cutting the lead to 24 points.

New Orleans added another Kasay field goal to make the halftime score 34-7, and the second half belonged to the Saints.

The third quarter began with Brees throwing two touchdown passes to Jimmy Graham from 4 and 2 yards out, increasing the lead to 48-7.

Then Sproles scampered for a 16-yard touchdown run to lock up the final offensive score of the game with a 55-7 fourth-quarter lead.

On the next play from scrimmage, Painter threw a pass to Leigh Torrence, and with a convoy in front, he took it to the house for a 42-yard interception return touchdown, marking the score 62-7.

Fast forward eight years later, and the Colts (6-7) meet the Saints (10-3) on Monday Night Football, with must-win situations for both clubs.

Indianapolis has lost three straight games, and five of its last six, to find itself clawing for a chance at a wild card spot in the AFC playoff picture. One more loss could eliminate the team from playoff contention.

And New Orleans comes off a gut-wrenching loss to the San Francisco 49ers, where the Saints still have a chance of securing the top seed in the NFC playoff picture.

This Saints team does not nearly have the offensive weapons or firepower of the 2011 team, but enter this game with the Colts as nine-point favorites.

Winning out their final three games at home against the Colts and on the road against the Tennessee Titans and the Carolina Panthers is plausible, but it will require excellent outputs from all three phases of the game.

Season-ending injuries to Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins definitely hurt this squad, but the Saints say they have a good amount of depth on the defense. But these setbacks come one game after the Saints allowed 516 yards to the 49ers.

Maybe the additions of players like Manti Te’o and Stephone Anthony can help on special teams and defense, but there are still question marks with the defensive line and linebacker depth, the lack of consistency from the secondary and the limited arsenal for Brees on offense.

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By winning their final three games, and getting some help from the rest of the NFC, the Saints have their chance to reclaim the top spot in the conference and overcome the obstacles they have on their team.