Though most of the Atlanta Falcons congratulated Drew Brees after Monday night’s 45-16 loss, at least one Falcons player took exception to the Saints’ decision to pass in the closing minutes of a blowout.
With the Saints up 38-16 with five minutes left, head coach Sean Payton decided to keep throwing, allowing Brees to pile up the 30 yards he needed to surpass Dan Marino’s 27-year-old single-season yards record.
"No need for that," an unnamed Falcons player told CBS Sports. "It came on our watch, but it didn’t have to come that way. We won’t forget it."
The perceived slight could add a little extra motivation for the playoff-bound Falcons, who would play at New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs if the current standings hold through Sunday’s games.
Though Atlanta head coach Mike Smith offered his congratulations after the game, Yahoo! Sports reported the 52-year-old was privately "seething" over Payton’s decision to go for the record.
The rivalry between the two teams has been particularly bitter in recent years, including an incident last year in which some Saints players mocked urinating on the Falcons logo after a win in Atlanta.
After the game, Brees and Payton sought to assure the Falcons they were not trying to show them up.
"I hope Mike Smith knows that. We weren’t trying to run up the score or anything," Brees said.
Payton, however, conceded that under normal circumstances he would not have kept passing.
"Someone is going to ask this question, so I am going to answer it before it’s asked," Payton said. "Typically, would I be throwing there? … probably not. In fact, the answer is I wouldn’t be. But I thought it was appropriate to get [the record] and we did it."
Brees broke Marino’s 1984 record of 5,084 yards with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles with just under three minutes to go. His current total of 5,087 yards is sure to be padded Sunday against the Carolina Panthers’ defense, which has allowed an average of 236 passing yards per game.
And Marino could be third on the all-time list after Sunday, since Patriots quarterback Tom Brady needs just 188 yards to shatter the mark.