NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles #43 and breaks the single-season passing record in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's 27-year-old passing record in Monday night's 45-16 win over the Falcons, but he may not even be the best quarterback in the league this season.
Maybe ESPN was onto something when they dubbed 2011 the "Year Of The Quarterback" for no apparent reason. As it turns out, that couldn't be more accurate. We're seeing one of the greatest passing seasons ever from the league's quarterbacks as a whole.
And that's highlighted by what went down on Monday night: Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's 27-year-old passing yards record (with a game to spare). Brees found Darren Sproles on a nine-yard touchdown strike with 2:51 remaining in the Saints' 45-16 win over Atlanta on Monday, which put the New Orleans QB at 5,087 yards on the season, three yards past Marino's 1984 record. Here's video of the moment Brees passed Marino:
"Just an amazing feeling, an amazing moment," Brees said after the exclamation point of his 307-yard, four-touchdown night that leaves him with 5,087 yards for the season. "We couldn't have made it more dramatic could we? ... It makes me feel good. I think we made a lot of people happy tonight."
Well...it could have been a little more dramatic. He could've broken the record in Week 17 and not with a week to spare. He'll be able to pile on the record next week, maybe pushing it out of reach for another 27 years and beyond.
"You do have to enjoy these things because you don't how often they are going to come around," Brees said. "They're rare."
But not that rare. At least not this year. As it stands now, as many as three quarterbacks (but likely only two) have a shot at Marino's old record.
Tom Brady currently sits 187 yards away from Marino's old record of 5,084 yards, so he could break it with a good first half against Buffalo next week. Brady's current pace has him beating the old record by over 100 yards.
Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback with the MVP season, is 435 yards away from the old record with a game to play. The Packers might be resting their starters next week so it's unlikely he has a shot to break it, but that tells you how close three different quarterbacks have been this year.
And in a season where Brees shatters a 27-year-old NFL record, he may not even be having the best overall season of any quarterback in the league. Rodgers has four more touchdowns and seven less interceptions than Brees, and has his team in a better spot than the Saints with the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Perhaps the "Year of the Quarterback" is right, a year in which Marino's record falls and the guy who breaks it might be the second best signal-caller this season.