NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New Orleans Saints made franchise history on Sunday when they held on late for a 22-17 heart-stopping victory over the Tennessee Titans in LP Field.
It boosted the Saints’ record to 10-3, giving them three straight double-digit seasons for the first time in the 45-year history of the organization.
The Saints went 13-3 in 2009 and 11-5 a year ago to match the only back-to-back double-digit winning seasons they had under Jim Mora in 1987-88 (12-3 and 10-6) and 1991-92 (11-5 and 12-4).
Saints coach Sean Payton also reached double digits in wins for the fourth time in six seasons, tying Mora for the most in club history.
Brees ties NFL mark
Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 337 yards, tying the NFL record of 10 300-yard games in a season, which he already shares with Rich Gannon.
Gannon did it in 2002 and Brees in 2008.
Brees also had at least one TD pass in his 40th consecutive game after throwing a pair to Marques Colston and is now seven behind the NFL mark of 47 straight games by Johnny Unitas.
Tight end Jimmy Graham was nearly a late scratch when he came down with back stiffness during warmups after Payton turned in his game-day inactives.
Fortunately, the Saints had an extra tight end active in Michael Higgins when defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis was deactivated with a tight hamstring.
Graham received treatment in the locker room before kickoff and played, catching five passes for 55 yards.
“I was running routes and caught an awkward ball, and everything kind of shifted,” Graham said. “The pain doesn’t matter … it doesn’t matter what I’m going through. I’m still going to play.”
The Saints’ inactives were Ellis (hamstring), running back Mark Ingram (turf toe), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee), defensive end Turk McBride (ankle), cornerback Leigh Torrence, tackle William Robinson and wide receiver Adrian Arrington.
Inactives of note for the Titans were two starters — middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (groin) and cornerback Jason McCourty (concussion).
Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck left in the second quarter when he injured his left calf, but returned for one play in the final period when backup Jake Locker took a hit below his right armpit from blitzing cornerback Tracy Porter. Locker returned and finished the game.
The Saints had no giveaways for the fourth straight game and have played 17 quarters without one, with the last coming early in the third quarter of a Nov. 6 game with Tampa Bay.
Under Payton, the Saints are 20-0 all-time when they have no turnovers.
Four Saints played their college ball at the University of Tennessee — cornerback Jabari Greer, wide receiver Robert Meachem, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin and McBride.
Greer served as game-day captain and called the pregame coin toss.
Payton has defeated 29 of the other 31 NFL teams in regular-season play after scratching the Tennessee off his bucket list. The only teams he hasn’t beaten are Baltimore (0-2) and Denver (0-1). … The Saints are now 28-9 under Payton when they score on their first series of a game after getting a 25-yard field goal from John Kasay on their initial possession Sunday. … Former Walker High School and LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins, a free agent who made the Titans’ roster in training camp, played Sunday in the nickel and dime packages.