By BRIAN ALLEE-WALSH
Special to The Advocate
October 12, 2012
NEW ORLEANS — It sounds like a broken record, but Drew Brees moved past another iconic NFL quarterback.
Ten months ago, it was Dan Marino. On Sunday night, Johnny Unitas became second fiddle.
The suspense ended with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter of a prime time game between the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome when Brees collaborated with receiver Devery Henderson on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
Henderson slipped past single coverage from Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer and loped the last 12 yards into the Poydras Street end zone, helping the Saints register their first win of the season with a 31-24 come-from-behind victory against the AFC West-leading Chargers.
Henderson’s score marked the 48th consecutive game in which Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass, breaking a record Unitas established in 1960.
“It’s unbelievable; you couldn’t have written a better script,’’ Brees said. “I really tried to take in the moment after the game and walked around the locker room sharing the moment with my teammates.
“The amazing thing about this record is it spans the better part of four seasons — ‘09, ‘10, ‘11 and now ‘12 — and that’s why I thought it was important to have those people in the building tonight.’’
Brees addressed the media after presenting game balls to three suspended members of the Saints’ football operations who were allowed to attend Sunday night’s game by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and interim coach Joe Vitt.
“To have them in the building and to be able to share this moment with them is very special to me,’’ said Brees, who surpassed the 30,000-yard mark in his 100th game with the Saints.
Henderson finished the game with a season-high eight catches for 123 yards.
“Having that (record) hanging over your head all week, everybody wanted to be a part of this,’’ Henderson said. “It’s a great accomplishment for Drew, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.’’
Approximately 45 minutes after the historic touchdown pass, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted his congratulations: “ Congrats to @drewbrees & his teammates on breaking Unitas’ record. Amazing accomplishment by great QB & leader. We’re proud of you, Drew.’’
On Dec. 26, 2011, Brees broke a 27-year-old record of 5,084 passing yards in one season held by Marino. On that night in the Superdome, Brees threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-16 win against the Atlanta Falcons.
On Sunday night, Brees threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, including three to wide receiver Marques Colston as part of his nine-catch, 131-yard game.
“I wish we all could have got a piece of it,’’ Colston said of Henderson’s historic touchdown catch. “But Devery got the one.’’
The official NFL game summary says it all: “3-6-SD-40 (3:05) ... (shotgun) D. Brees pass deep right to D. Henderson for 40 yards. ... TOUCHDOWN. Pass 28, YAC 12. Saints #9 passes Johnny Unitas for consecutive regular season games with a touchdown. Brees now has 48 straight games with a passing touchdown.’’
“That record lasted so long,’’ Saints right guard Jahri Evans said. “I’m just happy to be out there on the field with Drew when he did it. He deserves everything he gets, every record he breaks.’’
“It wasn’t a matter of time before he broke the record, because you know San Diego didn’t want him to get it against them,’’ Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. “But we know that if we give him time to throw, he’s going to be successful, and tonight is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
“He’s something special, and I’m just happy to be part of his historic night.’’