NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees set the NFL record for passing yards in a season, breaking a mark Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino had held since 1984, and the Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Falcons on Monday night.
Brees threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns, the last a 9-yard strike to Darren Sproles that set the record with 2:51 to go.
It was Brees' final pass of the game, and it gave him 5,087 yards passing, three more than Marino, with one game to play.
As Sproles spiked the ball, Brees put his arm over his head and started walking toward midfield while the Superdome crowd went wild and his teammates chased him down.
Brees said he tried not to think about the record during the game, comparing the situation to a pitcher who has a no-hitter working: "I'm just thinking about throwing completions and throwing touchdowns.''
Marino passed for 5,084 in 1984. Brees entered the game needing 305 for the record.
Marino offered his congratulations on his Twitter account: "Congrats to @drewbrees. Great job by such a special player."
Brees is the first quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards twice. He had 5,069 in 2008.
Vikes expect Peterson for start of next year
The Vikings expect star running back Adrian Peterson to be recovered from left knee surgery for two torn ligaments in time to start next season.
Peterson tore the ACL and MCL when he was hit in the side of the knee by Redskins safety DeJon Gomes on Saturday. He will have surgery in the next seven to 10 days, head trainer Eric Sugarman said.
Sugarman outlined an eight- to nine-month recovery for Peterson. "Adrian has a great work ethic," Sugarman said. "Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past." The goal is to have Peterson ready for the "beginning portion" of next season, Sugarman said.
Quarterback Christian Ponder, who sustained a concussion against the Redskins, was "doing great" and was without symptoms, Sugarman said.
jets' ryan: no regrets: Jets coach Rex Ryan said has no regrets about talking up his team and how his boasts might have motivated the Giants in their victory Saturday. The brash coach has taken lots of heat since the Jets' 29-14 loss, and he said, "I definitely deserve the criticism." He also said he supports quarterback Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer despite sentiment that changes need to be made.
Bears: Quarterback Jay Cutler was scheduled to have pins removed from his surgically repaired right thumb today. Coach Lovie Smith wouldn't say if Cutler would practice this week for their season finale against the Vikings on Sunday. The Bears were eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to the Packers on Sunday. Cutler broke the thumb in a win over the Chargers on Nov. 20, and Chicago hasn't won since.
Browns: Coach Pat Shurmur said the team won't know until Wednesday if quarterback Colt McCoy, who sustained a concussion Dec. 8 against Pittsburgh, will be cleared to practice for Sunday's rematch.
cowboys: The swelling has gone down on Tony Romo's bruised throwing (right) hand, and the quarterback is expected to be fine for Sunday's game against the Giants to determine the NFC East title. Romo hurt the hand Saturday when it hit an Eagles helmet. X-rays were negative.
Giants: Coach Tom Coughlin walked with a noticeable limp favoring his left leg, two days after running back D.J Ware slammed into him after Ware was hit out of bounds against the Jets. "I may not be able to run for a while," Coughlin said, then joked that Ware was no longer with the team.
Panthers: Receiver Legedu Naanee broke a bone in his right foot Saturday against the Bucs and is done for the season. Brandon LaFell will start in his place Sunday at New Orleans.
Texans: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips returned to work, 11 days after surgery on his kidney and gallbladder.