With 2:56 to play in the New Orleans Saints' 45-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Saints quarterback Drew Brees connected with running back Darren Sproles for a nine-yard touchdown. The nine yards gave Brees 307 for the night and 5,087 for the season, breaking Hall of Famer Dan Marino's 27-year-old record of 5,084 yards from the 1984 season.
In the first half of last night's game, Brees became the first player in NFL history to have two 5,000-yard passing seasons. Brees previously took aim at Marino's mark in 2008, coming up 16 yards short of breaking the record. Brees and Marino could soon have company in the 5,000 Passing Yards Club, as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady enters this Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills with 4,897 yards on the season.
Historically, the Bills are a team that the Patriots and Brady have feasted upon, with Brady passing for 4,492 yards with 43 touchdowns in 19 career games against the Bills. Brady had 387 yards and four touchdowns in the first meeting with the Bills this season, but was also intercepted four times in Buffalo's 34-31 win on September 25. Brady and Co. may be looking for a some payback against the Bills, while also claiming the top seed in the AFC Playoffs this Sunday. With a big game against the Bills, Brady could even pass Brees' passing yardage total this season.
For Brady, this is the second time in his career where he's thrown for over 4,800 yards, a feat accomplished just seven times by five quarterbacks in league history. The first to do so was Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, who passed for 4,802 yards during the 1981 season, breaking his own single-season record of 4,715 passing yards, which he had set the previous season. Current NFL Network analyst and former St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner passed for 4,830 yards during the 2001 season.
Three current quarterbacks enter Week 17 of the 2011 NFL season with an opportunity for a 4,800-yard season.
With 4,643 yards through 15 games, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has an outside shot at 4,800 on the season. But with the Packers having nothing to play for, and Rodgers solidifying his status as the league MVP solidified with his five-touchdown performance against the Chicago Bears on Christmas night, may not play against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has also averaged over 300 passing yards per game this season and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft is 282 passing yards against the Packers away from 4,800. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has averaged over 305 yards per game this season, giving him 4,587 passing yards entering Sunday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Manning is 114 passing yards away from breaking Peyton Manning's family record of 4,700 passing yards set last season.