Saints by the Numbers: Thomas breaks another decades-old record

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In the season opener against Tampa Bay, Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas broke a 40-year-old franchise record for receptions in a game.

In Sunday’s 45-35 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Thomas broke another of the oldest marks in the Saints’ record book.

Thomas finished with 12 catches for 211 yards and the game-clinching 72-yard touchdown reception against the Rams. The 211 receiving yards topped the previous franchise record of 205 set by Wes Chandler in the 1979 season opener against Atlanta.

In the 52-year history of the franchise, there  have only been three games of 200 or more yards receiving. The only other one was by Torrance Small, who caught six passes for 200 yards on Dec. 24, 1994, at Denver.

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Elite Company: Alvin Kamara scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) against the Rams, giving him 12 total TDs in the first eight games of the season.

Not since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 – when he set an NFL record with 31 total TDs – has a player had 12 TDs in eight games. Kamara and his opponent on Sunday, Todd Gurley, each reached a dozen at the halfway mark this season.

Interestingly, getting to 12 TDs in eight games happened in 10 of 12 seasons from 1995-2006, four times by eventual Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, Marshall Faulk and Tomlinson.

Gurley and Kamara are the 21st and 22nd players since 1950 to reach 12 TDs in eight games.

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4 and 0: Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns without an interception Sunday, the 22nd such game of his career.

Brees, who is 21-1 lifetime in those games, pulled into a tie with Tom Brady for the most games of at least four TD passes without an INT in his career.

Brees has 33 career games with four or more touchdown passes, second only to Peyton Manning’s 35.

Additionally, Brees extended his own NFL record with his 113rd career 300-yard passing game.

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Lighting It Up: The Saints are averaging 34.9 points per game through the first half of the season, becoming the ninth team since the AFL/NFL merger to average at least 34 points through eight games – and the second this year, joining the Kansas City Chiefs in that group.

The great offensive start has translated to wins on the field. All nine teams have started either 7-1 or 8-0.

Team Season Points Avg Record
Kansas City 2018 290 36.3 7-1
New Orleans 2018 279 34.9 7-1
New England 2015 276 34.5 8-0
Denver 2013 343 42.9 7-1
Green Bay 2011 275 34.4 8-0
New Orleans 2009 303 37.9 8-0
New England 2007 331 41.4 8-0
St. Louis 2000 330 41.3 7-1
Denver 1998 273 34.1 8-0

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Up and Down the Field: The Saints and Rams combined for 970 total yards Sunday, with New Orleans out-gaining Los Angeles 487-483.

Since 2014, there have been seven regular-season and postseason NFL games where both games have gained at least 480 yards. The Saints have been involved in four of them.

Date Visitor Yards Home Yards Result
Sunday LA Rams 483 NO 487 NO 45-35
Sept. 30, 2018 CLE 487 OAK 565 OAK 45-42 (OT)
Feb. 4, 2018 *NE 613 *PHI 538 PHI 41-33
Dec. 24, 2016 MIA 494 BUF 589 MIA 34-31 (OT)
Nov. 6, 2016 NO 571 SF 486 NO 41-23
Sept. 11, 2016 OAK 486 NO 507 OAK 35-34
Oct. 26, 2014 GB 491 NO 495 NO 44-23
 *Super Bowl LII

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Making a Point: Sunday’s game was the third time this season and 29th time since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006 that the Saints have scored at least 40 points.

Only the New England Patriots (34 prior to Sunday night’s game) have topped the 40-point barrier more than in that span. It’s a long way back to third-place Green Bay with 17.

New Orleans’ 35 first-half points matches the franchise’s most ever in a game. It was the fifth time since 2006 that the Saints have scored at least 30 points before halftime in the regular season.

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Last Unbeaten Falls: As we detailed last week, the Saints have faced – and knocked off – the last remaining NFL unbeaten before.

In fact, Sunday is the fifth time New Orleans has taken down the league’s last unbeaten. Coincidentally, three of the five occurrences have been against the Rams.

Research from the website Pro Football Reference was used in this story.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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