EditorsNote: Corrects headline; corrects year in third graf; fixes to “playoff” in 5th graf; tweaks playoff scenarios in 6th graf; other minor tweaks
Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes, and Michael Thomas set an NFL single-season record for pass receptions as the visiting New Orleans Saints overcame a 14-0 deficit and beat the Tennessee Titans 38-28 on Sunday.
Brees, who became the NFL’s career leader in touchdown passes six days earlier, increased his career total to 544 and upped his lead over New England’s Tom Brady and the retired Peyton Manning by five.
Thomas caught Brees’ third touchdown pass on the day and finished with 12 receptions for 136 yards, giving him 145 catches, two more than Marvin Harrison had in 2002.
Jared Cook caught Brees’ other touchdown passes, and Alvin Kamara ended a 12-game touchdown drought as he scored on third-quarter runs of 40 yards and 1 yard.
With the win, the NFC South champion Saints (12-3) remained in contention for a first-round playoff bye and the top overall seed in the NFC. They finish the regular season at Carolina next Sunday.
The Titans (8-7), who were eliminated from the AFC South title chase when Houston beat Tampa Bay on Saturday, actually improved their playoff standing despite the loss, as Pittsburgh’s loss gave Tennessee the tiebreaker for the final AFC wild-card spot. The Titans are in the postseason if they win at Houston next Sunday.
Brees completed 27 of 38 for 279 yards. The Titans’ Ryan Tannehill completed 17 of 27 for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
The Saints took their first lead on the second play of the third quarter at 17-14 following Kamara’s 40-yard TD run.
After Kamara added a 1-yard touchdown, the Titans scored for the first time since the first quarter when Tannehill threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Tajae Sharpe.
New Orleans responded with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Cook to take a 31-21 lead after three quarters.
Tannehill and Sharpe combined on a 7-yard touchdown to trim the Saints’ lead to 31-28 with 7:27 remaining.
The Titans took over at their 38 when the Saints faked a punt on fourth-and-7 and Justin Hardee dropped a pass from Taysom Hill that would have produced a first down.
New Orleans got the ball back one play later when C.J. Gardner-Johnson caused, and recovered, a fumble by Kalif Raymond after a 23-yard pass completion.
Four plays later, Brees hit Thomas for a 13-yard gain to break Harrison’s record, then threw a 2-yard touchdown to Thomas.
—Field Level Media