Drew Brees set a merciless tone with relentless, aggressive, pinpoint passing and the New Orleans Saints shrugged off injury risks, barreling into the postseason with an all-out effort.
“Every facet of our offense is clicking right now, but yet you’re constantly finding ways to advance it,” Brees said. “We’ve raised the bar for ourselves. We have a high level of expectations, and we’re just trying to meet that level.”
Brees passed for 389 yards and five touchdowns, and the Saints set a slew of NFL and club records in a 45-17 blowout of the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The NFL single-season records set by the Saints (13-3), who head into the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak, included offensive yards with 7,474, team yards passing with 5,347 and first downs with 416.
Brees, who was 28 of 35, finished with a record 468 completions this season, breaking Peyton Manning‘s 2010 mark of 450. He finished the season completing 71.6 percent of his passes, breaking his own 2009 NFL record 70.6 completion percentage.
In terms of playoff seeding, New Orleans gained nothing with the victory, finishing with the third seed because San Francisco (13-3), which had a better conference record, held onto the second seed by winning at St. Louis.
The Panthers (6-10), which had won four of five, kept up for much of the first half but wilted over the final two quarters while the Saints set a franchise single-game record with 617 yards of total offense.
Cam Newton closed out an otherwise spectacular rookie season 15 of 25 for 158 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Playoffs: The Saints will host the No. 6 seed Detroit Lions on Saturday January 7 at 7:30 CT.