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Sunday, January 1, 2012
New year, new records in the NFL



Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
While Aaron Rodgers rested on Sunday, backup Matt Flynn and the Packers offense lit up the scoreboard in a back-and-forth contest versus the Lions.
It’s a good thing for the NFL that the regular season comes to an end tonight, since there will be a lot of new records when the league prints out a new version for next season.

Lambeau Field legends
The year of the passing attack continued, and even though the Green Bay Packers rested Aaron Rodgers, Lambeau Field was center stage for the onslaught.

In his second NFL start, Matt Flynn set Packers records for passing yards (480) and touchdowns (six) in a game. According to Elias, he’s the first quarterback in NFL history with at least five TD passes in one of his first two NFL starts.

Flynn had most of his success passing outside the numbers. He was just the third quarterback this season to attempt 17 or more passes outside the numbers in a game while completing at least 82 percent of his passes. The others? Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford matched Flynn throw for throw until a late interception sealed the Packers win. Stafford set a franchise record with 520 pass yards, the fifth highest total in NFL history. He became the third quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards this season, joining Drew Brees and Brady.

It was the first game in NFL history where both quarterbacks threw for at least 400 yards and five touchdowns. The teams combined for 971 pass yards, easily eclipsing the previous NFL record set in Week 1 this season by the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

While the records were all passing related, they weren’t all positive marks. The Packers finished the season allowing 4,796 pass yards, the most in NFL history. This year’s Patriots briefly held the record after finishing their game with 4,703 pass yards allowed this season. Before this year, the 1995 Atlanta Falcons held the futility mark with 4,541 pass yards allowed.

Saints march into record book
The New Orleans Saints will be responsible for much of next year’s reprinting costs as well, courtesy of Drew Brees. Brees threw for 389 yards and five touchdowns and finished the year with NFL single-season records in pass yards, completions, completion percentage and 300-yard games.

Brees finished the season with seven straight 300-yard passing games and 43 straight games with a touchdown pass. The former is a new NFL record, while the latter leaves him four games behind the record of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass held by Johnny Unitas.

Brees’ marks weren’t the only records set at the Superdome on Sunday. Darren Sproles finished the year with 2,696 all-purpose yards, breaking Derrick Mason’s single-season record by six yards. Jimmy Graham spent the day batting for the record for receiving yards in a season for a tight end, eventually falling 17 yards short of Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots.

Two Carolina Panthers also set records on Sunday. Cam Newton became the first rookie to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, while Steve Smith set the franchise record with 699 receptions, passing Muhsin Muhammad.