CHICAGO — With a 39-yard pass to running back Pierre Thomas on the the second drive in Monday night’s game with the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees surpassed the 4,000-yard mark for the ninth season in a row.
That extended Brees’ own NFL record he set in 2012. Peyton Manning held the old mark with six in a row from 1999 to 2004 and previously had five 4,000-yard consecutive seasons from 2006-10.
Brees went on to throw for 375 yards in a 31-15 win over the Bears and now has 4,358 yards for the season.
Despite their troubles this season, the Saints continue to have great success in scoring with the clock winding down in the first half.
Brees’ 9-yard touchdown strike to Marques Colston with 38 seconds to play in the second quarter marked the eighth time in 14 games the Saints put points on the scoreboard in the final two minutes of the first half (six TDs, two field goals).
Going into last week’s game with the Carolina Panthers, the Saints led the NFL in third-down conversions, making a first down 51.3 percent of the time.
They also went 1 for 10 against the Panthers after missing on their final two in a 35-32 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers a week earlier.
They started the game missing their first three, which meant they made just one of the previous 15 before Brees threw an 18-yard pass to Jimmy Graham on the first drive of the third period.
They finished 4 of 11 for the game.
The Saints started three players in their secondary who weren’t on the active roster five weeks ago.
Jamarca Sanford started at strong safety for Kenny Vaccaro, who was the fifth defensive back in the nickel package, and Pierre Warren made his third start in a row at free safety.
Terrence Frederick, who was promoted from the practice squad in late November, played in only his third NFL game and started at cornerback.
The Saints inactives were CB Corey White, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, LB Moise Fokou, LB Ronald Powell, NT Lawrence Virgil, T Nick Becton and WR Seantavius Jones.
White, who started nine of 13 games this season at cornerback and practiced this week at safety, was part of the upheaval in the secondary.
Armstead leaves early
Saints left tackle Terron Armstead, who missed one practice and was limited in two others this week by a neck injury, played three series before going to the sideline late in the first period.
Armstead was replaced by Bryce Harris, who took over for him in the first half of last week’s game with the Panthers.
Saints backup quarterback Luke McCown, the holder on place kicks, had the ball slip from his right hand as he tried to put it down for Shayne Graham’s 51-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter.
McCown picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw an incomplete pass. But there were offsetting penalties on both sides and Graham was wide right and short on the do-over.
‘B’ for Bailey
Saints coach Sean Payton had a pink script “B” embroidered on the side of his visor in honor of 11-year-old Bailey Leon, who is battling cancer.
Bailey watched Monday night’s game from her hospital bed at Ochsner Medical Center. Bailey met Payton several times this season, including after Saturday’s practice when he promised to bring her a muddy game ball.
Saints running back Khiry Robinson had a 2-yard run in the second quarter. It was his first carry since injuring his forearm on Oct. 19. He missed six games and was active last week, but didn’t play. … The Brees-to-Colston TD pass was their 67th, which is tied for fifth on the NFL’s all-time list for a quarterback-receiver duo. … Former LSU safety Danny McCray, the personal protector on the Bears’ punt unit, was stopped short of a first down in the second quarter on a run up the middle on fourth-and-3 from the Chicago 39.