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Saints' Michael Thomas Breaks NFL Single-Season Reception Record vs. Titans

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) warms up before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

With his 11th catch of the game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 16, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas set the NFL's single-season record for receptions.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

144 times that proved you can't guard Mike. @Cantguardmike with the most receptions in a single season 👐 @brgridiron https://t.co/ZKNCays5Ne

The catch was originally called a touchdown, but after review, it was ruled that Thomas was down at the 1-yard line. Thomas then caught his 12th pass of the day for the touchdown, giving him a 12-catch, 136-yard, one-touchdown day to go along with breaking the record. 

Thomas moves ahead of Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, who had 143 receptions for the Indianapolis Colts in 2002.

Antonio Brown and Julio Jones flirted with history in 2015 but were unable to surpass Harrison. They each fell eight catches short of breaking the record.

With each passing week, the question shifted from whether Thomas would catch Harrison to when it would happen.

NFL @NFL

.@Cantguardmike had his fifth straight game with 8+ catches and 100+ receiving yards on Sunday. This guy is TOO GOOD. 💪 @Saints | #Saints https://t.co/uUfkJ97RYn

Consistency was key for Harrison in 2002; one or two monster games didn't skew his overall total. Instead, he had only one game with fewer than six catches and six games with double-digit receptions.

Thomas' output has been pretty similar. Only twice did he fail to register at least eight receptions and had nine weeks in double digits. Heading into Week 16, Thomas had 1,552 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. 

His achievement is even more impressive when considering Drew Brees missed five games because of a thumb injury. He had 42 receptions when Teddy Bridgewater replaced Brees as the starting quarterback.

Ryan Clark @Realrclark25

Michael Thomas is now a top 5 player in this league. Hard for people to see a wideout like this but if Antonio Brown, DeAndre HOPKINS, & Julio had times they were seen that way then this is @Cantguardmike’s era. Best in the biz right now

Saints head coach Sean Payton made the case for Thomas as an MVP contender when speaking to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio in November:

"It starts with you've got to win. Here are the things we know—you've got to be a winning team. You've got to be, generally speaking, having success and he's been a huge part of that for us. And then you have to have production, and he's on pace to have more production at that position than anyone in the history of the game. And, lastly, our Super Bowl champion just had the MVP at receiver, so there's no reason that can't happen relative to the length of the season."

Jumping ahead of Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson in the MVP is basically impossible at this stage, but Thomas has now earned his place in NFL history.

If his career serves as any indication, Thomas could rewrite the record book again in 2020. This is the third straight year in which his receiving total climbed over the season before. He went from 92 as a rookie in 2016 to 104 in 2017 to 125 in 2018 and now sits at 145 and counting.