New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke the NFL single-season record for passing yards last night in a 45-16 blowout over the Atlanta Falcons, surpassing hall of famer Dan Marino's previous benchmark with 5,084 passing yards. In front of a home crowd and a national "Monday Night Football" audience, the Saints were up 38-16 with less than three minutes to play when coach Sean Payton decided to let Brees go for the passing record, instead of running out the clock — a decision that clearly bothered a few Falcons players. "No need for that," one Atlanta player tells CBS Sports — and many critics agree. Is Brees' place in the history books marred by questionable sportsmanship?
The Saints made a bad call: "Classy? Not so much," says Jason Cole at Yahoo. Coach Payton made a decision that "those who value sportsmanship will undoubtedly hate." Drew Brees is unquestionably "one of the classiest guys in the NFL," but after the game he said he hopes opposing coach Mike Smith knows he wasn't trying "to run up the score or anything." But, as Cole points out (reasonably enough), "you can't say that you're not trying to run up the score when you actually are running up the score." The Falcons have every right to be angry.
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The Falcons are just raining on the Saints' parade: The Falcons "were pissed that they had to be the ones to give up the record on national TV," says Alejandro De Los Rios at the Gambit Weekly, and if they really had a problem with the record, "they could have, you know, stopped Brees." Calling the Saints "classless" is just "asinine," especially since the quarterback's road to the top has been so improbable: Many doubted that Brees could continue to play quarterback in the NFL after battling a severe shoulder injury back in 2006. If New Orleans ever needed a reason to party, "this is as good as any." They don't need permission from the Falcons.
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But it should have been truly special: "The kid got his wish," says Pete Prisco at CBS Sports. It's only too bad that "what should have been a truly special moment" didn't happen in the "context of the game." While the suspect circumstances don't completely overshadow the achievement of "one of the greatest passers of this generation," it does "take some of the gloss off of it."
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