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New Orleans • Drew Brees' latest assault on a prestigious NFL passing record lifted the embattled New Orleans Saints to their first victory of the season.
Brees broke a half-century-old record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, and the Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-24 on Sunday night.
Brees' 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson eclipsed the mark of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass set by Johnny Unitas from 1956-60.
"First of all, it's a team record, not an individual record. So many people were responsible for this, coaches and people in the organization," Brees said. "Certainly the man who held this record stands for everything great in this league. It couldn't have happened in a better way."
Brees finished with four touchdown passes, including three to Marques Colston, giving the seventh-year receiver a franchise-record 52 TD catches with the Saints (1-4).
At Brees' request, the NFL allowed coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis all serving various suspensions in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation to attend the game. They and Unitas' son, Joe, saw Brees pass for 370 yards.
"It gave us a good mojo for sure," Brees said of Payton's presence.
"We finally put together a great team effort for all four quarters. I can't say enough for the guys in our locker room," Brees said. "We have been through a lot together. Hopefully this will lead to more wins."
Philip Rivers passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns to former Saint Robert Meachem, but committed two costly turnovers in the final quarter.
The first was Roman Harper's interception and 41-yard return on a pass tipped by fellow safety Malcolm Jenkins. That set up the Saints' final score on Garrett Hartley's 25-yard field goal. San Diego (3-2) still had a chance to tie in the final minute when defensive end Martez Wilson stripped Rivers and recovered the fumble to seal the victory. Saints 31,Chargers 24
San Diego 7 10 7 0 24
New Orleans 7 7 7 10 31
SD • Meachem 15 pass from Rivers (Novak kick), 6:56.
NO • Henderson 40 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 2:58.
SD • FG Novak 20, 9:58.
NO • Colston 19 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 7:19.
SD • Meachem 44 pass from Rivers (Novak kick), :36.
SD • Mathews 13 run (Novak kick), 12:27.
NO • Colston 16 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), :11.
NO • Colston 5 pass from Brees (Hartley kick), 8:50.
NO • FG Hartley 26, 2:56.
Attendance • 73,109.
First downs 27 21
Total Net Yards 427 404
Rushes-yards 18-117 21-53
Passing 310 351
Punt Returns 2-16 2-2
Kickoff Returns 5-127 2-49
Interceptions Ret. 1-9 1-41
Comp-Att-Int 27-42-1 29-45-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 5-44 3-19
Punts 4-45.5 4-51.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-0
Penalties-yards 7-56 10-99
Time of Possession 30:34 29:26
Rushing • San Diego, Mathews 12-80, Brown 2-27, Battle 4-10. New Orleans, P.Thomas 9-30, Ingram 5-16, Sproles 5-9, Brees 2-(minus 2).
Passing • San Diego, Rivers 27-42-1-354. New Orleans, Brees 29-45-1-370.
Receiving • San Diego, Mathews 6-59, Floyd 5-108, Brown 5-47, Meachem 3-67, Gates 3-19, Royal 2-31, Battle 2-7, Rosario 1-16. New Orleans, Colston 9-131, Henderson 8-123, Sproles 5-28, Camarillo 4-44, P.Thomas 2-40, J.Graham 1-4.
Missed Field Goals • San Diego, Novak 55 (WL).