Saints morning report: Brees' new heights

Another week, another historical accomplishment (or two or three) for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. His five-touchdown performance in Sunday’s 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills was the eighth of his career, moving him back ahead of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dan Marino ranks third with six of them, and George Blanda ranks fourth with five.

Brees’ five touchdown passes also moved him past Fran Tarkenton and into a tie with Tom Brady for fourth place on the NFL’s all-time list at 343. Brees and Brady will have to wait a few years to catch the No. 3 man on that list, Marino, at 420.

But we’ve seen Brees throw for a lot of touchdown passes before. That’s nothing new. I was even more fascinated to discover that we actually saw Brees do something twice over the past two games that he had never done before in his 13-year NFL career.

Against both the Bills and the New England Patriots in Week 6, Brees connected with rookie receiver Kenny Stills for touchdown bombs on third-and-20.

I was curious how rare it was for Brees to throw a TD pass on third-and-20 or longer, so I asked ESPN Stats & Information to look it up, and it was even more unique than I thought.

Brees had never thrown a touchdown pass from that distance before in 44 previous attempts in his career. And dating back to 2001, there have now been only 21 passing touchdowns in the entire NFL in a total of 1,539 attempts on third-and-20 or longer.

Brees goes deep: One more rare feat for Brees. According to ESPN Stats & Information, four of his touchdown passes Sunday came on throws of deeper than 10 yards down the field. It was the first time Brees had done that in the last eight seasons. And he tied Manning for the most in any NFL game this season (Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens).

Brees’ false starts: Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton were both a little frustrated by the officials’ decision to penalize the quarterback twice for false-start penalties while he was going through his pre-snap motions in the first half. That backed the Saints up from third-and-1 at the Buffalo 11 to third-and-11. Then kicker Garrett Hartley wound up missing a 38-yard field goal.

“I’m not sure [why I was flagged] for the first one. I didn’t really get an answer. And then the second one it was maybe my hands, but I’m not really sure to be honest with you,” Brees said.

Saints streaking: The Saints have now won five consecutive games after their bye week, a streak that dates back to 2009. … They have also won 12 consecutive home games under coach Sean Payton (not counting his 2012 suspension).

High and low: A weird quirky statistic from the Saints’ offense on Sunday -- running back Darren Sproles led the team with four receptions, but he had a total of zero yards. His catches went for minus-6, 7, 2 and minus-3.

Worth a click:

  • New York Jets coach Rex Ryan knows his team needs to shape up in a hurry after a dreary 49-9 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. “If we don’t play better than we did today, hell, yeah, that guy (Brees) will break every record known to man against us,” Ryan said in this report by ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cmini.

  • The Advocate’s Brian Allee-Walsh with some great reactions from the Bills’ locker room on Brees’ performance. Said coach Doug Marrone: “Darn it, Drew Brees just always finds those guys … the best matchup.”

  • On the flip side, The Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan wrote about how the Saints defense made life miserable for Bills quarterback Thad Lewis throughout the day.

  • ESPN’s John Clayton led his Last Call column from Week 8 on the disappearance of the run game throughout the NFL. The Saints are certainly part of that trend. Pierre Thomas’ 65 rushing yards Sunday were the most by a Saints running back all season.