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Drew Brees' Historic Night Leads Saints to Blowout over Jacoby Brissett, Colts

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2019

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, which broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes, surpassing Peyton Manning, in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in New Orleans, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The race for the NFC's two first-round byes just got tighter.

The New Orleans Saints improved to 11-3 on the season with a 34-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. They already clinched the NFC South and are tied with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the battle for those byes after Drew Brees set the record for career touchdown passes and completion percentage in one game during the latest effort.

As for the Colts, they dropped to 6-8 with a fourth straight loss and were officially eliminated from the playoffs.

New Orleans Saints @Saints

𝐃𝐑𝐄𝐖. 𝐁𝐑𝐄𝐄𝐒. Yards leader. Touchdowns leader. RECORD-SLAYER. https://t.co/inFCArqQtV

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The Saints' @drewbrees completed 29 of his 30 pass attempts tonight. That 96.7% completion pct is the best single game completion pct in NFL history (min. 20 attempts). https://t.co/QwabCt3xDM

         

Notable Fantasy Stats

  • NO QB Drew Brees: 29-of-30 passing for 307 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions
  • NO RB Alvin Kamara: 14 carries for 66 yards; five catches for 23 yards
  • NO WR Michael Thomas: 12 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown
  • IND QB Jacoby Brissett: 18-of-34 passing for 165 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
  • IND RB Marlon Mack: 11 carries for 19 yards
  • IND WR T.Y. Hilton: four catches for 25 yards

          

Drew Brees Sets Record as Saints Flex All-Around Dominance

It's not often the outcome of the game takes a backseat to a storyline this late into a playoff chase, but that was the case Monday.

Brees entered the game a mere two touchdown passes behind Peyton Manning's career record of 539. It was clear from the early going the future Hall of Famer was going to set the record against Manning's old team, as he found Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith for scores in the first half to surpass Tom Brady's 538 and tie the all-time mark.

New Orleans Saints @Saints

Drew. Mike. Like Clockwork 🕖 #SAINTS https://t.co/30ZvPwr55P

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Drew Brees ties Peyton Manning with his 539th touchdown pass 🐐 (via @NFL) https://t.co/j4tFL1rXMn

It appeared as if he broke the record in the first half when he connected with Smith again, but it was called back for offensive pass interference. Fortunately for Saints fans, Brees made sure the penalty didn't prevent history when he found Josh Hill for touchdown pass No. 540 on the opening possession of the second half.

The record was another reminder that Brees is a living legend and in full control of an explosive offense with Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Saints fans in their seats at halftime after the refs took away Brees’ record TD https://t.co/G8diACwmia

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

In a class of his own ⚜️ https://t.co/9erN2FFJrR

Tom Brady @TomBrady

Congrats drew!! Couldn’t be more deserving. Passing Peyton in anything is an incredible achievement and your records will be tough to beat! But it’s worth trying 😉

NFL @NFL

And that's the record! @drewbrees passes Peyton Manning for most career passing touchdowns! @Saints | #Saints https://t.co/VkobVhjBh8

That group generates many of the headlines and optimism when evaluating New Orleans' Super Bowl chances, but the defense was also under the spotlight Monday after the previous 48-46 loss to the 49ers.

It answered the call from the get-go when it blocked a punt on the Colts' first possession and kept the momentum late in the second half with a 4th-down stop after Brees set the record. The Saints swarmed Marlon Mack whenever he touched the ball, forcing Jacoby Brissett into a situation in which he had to throw it, and they looked like an entirely different defensive unit than last time out.

The showing was all the more impressive since safety Vonn Bell and linebacker Kiko Alonso were sidelined with injuries.

New Orleans doesn't have to shut opponents down because of the firepower on the other side, but it also can't play like it did against the 49ers if it hopes to beat the NFC's elite. Monday's game was a much-needed boost of confidence.

            

Not Even T.Y. Hilton Can Save Colts' Playoff Hopes

Things were looking up for the Colts heading into the game considering wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was suiting up for the first time since Nov. 21.

After all, Indianapolis was 5-2 when he was on the field prior to Monday. His presence opens up the offense, punishes defenses for putting additional players in the box to stop Mack and creates lanes across the middle for tight end Jack Doyle.

It is not a stretch to suggest the Colts could be in playoff position if the four-time Pro Bowler had been healthy all season.

Gregg Doyel @GreggDoyelStar

This is actually the Colts' diabolical way to get even with Tom Brady: Let Drew Brees throw so many TD's, he'll put the NFL career record out of reach.

Mike Triplett @MikeTriplett

Add CB Marshon Lattimore to the group of top Saints players who are showing off their A-games tonight to the prime-time audience, along with Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Demario Davis among others.

The version on display against the Saints wouldn't be enough, though. Brissett never found a rhythm, the defense was unable to contain Brees, and Hilton struggled to create separation with Marshon Lattimore lined up on the opposite side.

It's time for Indianapolis to turn its attention toward the offseason.

           

What's Next?

The Colts host the Carolina Panthers in Week 16, while the Saints are at the Tennessee Titans.