NFL: Brees sets mark, Saints beat Chargers 31-24
New Orleans • Drew Brees broke a half-century-old NFL record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, and the New Orleans Saints won for the first time this season, 31-24 over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.
Brees' 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson eclipsed the mark of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass set by Johnny Unitas from 1956-60.
Brees' also had three scoring strikes to Marques Colston, giving him a franchise-record 52 touchdown catches with the Saints (1-4).
At Brees' request, the NFL allowed head coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis all serving various suspensions in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation to attend the game. They and Johnny Unitas son, Joe, saw Brees pass for 370 yards.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the one who suspended Saints personnel in the bounty matter but also granted Brees' request for Payton, Vitt and Loomis to attend the game, chimed in on social media to offer his own congratulations to Brees.
On his Twitter page, Goodell wrote: "Congrats to (at)drewbrees & his teammates on breaking Unitas' record. Amazing accomplishment by great QB & leader. We're proud of you, Drew."
Philip Rivers passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns to former Saint Robert Meachem, but had two costly turnovers in the final quarter.
The first was Roman Harper's interception and 41-yard return on a pass tipped by fellow safety Malcolm Jenkins. That set up the Saints' final score on Garrett Hartley's 25-yard field goal. San Diego (3-2) still had a chance to tie in the final minute when defensive end Martez Wilson stripped Rivers and recovered the fumble to seal the victory.
After his record-setting completion, Brees galloped to the end zone to hug Henderson. The rest of New Orleans' offense pursued and swarmed around Brees in celebration while the jubilant Superdome crowd roared and then howled an elongated, "Dreeeeeeew!"
Brees took the game ball to the sideline where he continued to accept congratulations. The scoring pass capped an 80-yard drive in which Brees completed all three of his third-down passes, including the touchdown connection with Henderson.
Colston finished with nine catches for 131 yards, while Henderson had eight catches for 123 yards.
Colston's second TD late in the third quarter eclipsed a franchise mark set by Joe Horn in 2006 and pulled the Saints back within a field goal shortly after the Chargers appeared to have gone ahead 31-14 on Demorrio Williams' interception return for a touchdown. Williams' TD was nullified, however, by Melvin Ingram's late hit on Brees' chin, which drew a roughing-the-passer flag and extended what wound up to be an 87-yard scoring drive.
San Diego 24, New Orleans 31
San Diego 7 10 7 0 24
New Orleans 7 7 7 10 31
SD • Meachem 15 pass from Rivers (Novak kick), 6:56.
NO • Henderson 40 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 2:58.
SD • FG Novak 20, 9:58.
NO • Colston 19 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 7:19.
SD • Meachem 44 pass from Rivers (Novak kick), :36.
SD • Mathews 13 run (Novak kick), 12:27.
NO • Colston 16 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), :11.
NO • Colston 5 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 8:50.
NO • FG Hartley 26, 2:56.
Attendance • 73,109.
First downs 27 21
Total Net Yards 427 404
Rushes-yards 18-117 21-53
Passing 310 351
Punt Returns 2-16 2-2
Kickoff Returns 5-127 2-49
Interceptions Ret. 1-9 1-41
Comp-Att-Int 27-42-1 29-45-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 5-44 3-19
Punts 4-45.5 4-51.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 7-56 10-99
Time of Possession 30:34 29:26
Rushing • San Diego, Mathews 12-80, Brown 2-27, Battle 4-10. New Orleans, P.Thomas 9-30, Ingram 5-16, Sproles 5-9, Brees 2-(minus 2).
Passing • San Diego, Rivers 27-42-1-354. New Orleans, Brees 29-45-1-370.
Receiving • San Diego, Mathews 6-59, Floyd 5-108, Brown 5-47, Meachem 3-67, Gates 3-19, Royal 2-31, Battle 2-7, Rosario 1-16. New Orleans, Colston 9-131, Henderson 8-123, Sproles 5-28, Camarillo 4-44, P.Thomas 2-40, J.Graham 1-4.
Missed Field Goals • San Diego, Novak 55 (WL).