Saints by the Numbers: Thomas does more than set receptions mark

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Josh Hill, Michael Thomas
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

Outside of remaining in the hunt for the top seed in the NFC, the headline of the Saints’ 38-28 victory Sunday over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville was Michael Thomas’ long-expected ascent to the top of the NFL’s single-season receptions list.

But Thomas did more than reach 145 receptions for the year, two more than Marvin Harrison’s previous record of 143 which had stood since 2002.

*Thomas’ 5,475 career receiving yards are the most by an NFL player in his first four seasons. He’s a little over 1,300 yards away from the career mark for the first five seasons (Torry Holt, 6,784), so another record appears within range for next year.

*Thomas caught 10 or more passes for the third consecutive game, matching his career-best streak. If he can extend that streak next Sunday at Carolina, he would tie Calvin Johnson’s NFL record of four consecutive games with double-figure catches.

*He topped the 100-yard mark receiving for the 10th time in 2019. If he does it again next Sunday, he would tie the NFL record of 11 games of 100-plus yards in a season, held by Johnson and Michael Irvin.

*With 1,688 receiving yards, Thomas would need 277 yards to surpass Johnson’s NFL record of 1,964, but with a more realistic 112-yard performance, he would become the fifth player in league history to top the 1,800-yard mark.

*Thomas has 1,679 yards from scrimmage this season (including one rush for minus-9 yards). He needs 122 against Carolina to move into second place on the Saints’ single-season list, behind only Deuce McAllister in 2003 (2,157 yards).

Comeback Kids: The Saints trailed 14-0 after the first quarter on Sunday. It was the ninth time since 2006 New Orleans has fallen behind by 14 or more points after 15 minutes.

The Saints could not overcome seven of the previous eight deficits, but did so against the Titans. The only other time a Sean Payton-coached team rallied from down 14 or more after one quarter was against Carolina in the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning season of 2009.

Mistake-Free Football: The Saints did not commit a turnover against the Titans, setting the stage for a possible NFL record.

New Orleans goes into Week 17 with eight turnovers (six interceptions, two fumbles lost) on the season. No team has ever finished a season with single-digit turnovers – the fewest is 10 by the 2010 Patriots and the 2011 49ers.

Green Bay also has a chance to be in the record mix, as they go into Monday night’s game against Minnesota with just nine turnovers on the year.

If the Saints do not lose a fumble against the Panthers next week, they would tie the NFL mark for fewest fumbles lost in a season (2).

Another Likely Record: Drew Brees has broken the NFL record for completion percentage three times in his career, including each of the last two seasons. He has a chance to do it again next week.

After a 27-for-38 performance against the Titans, Brees’ completion percentage “dropped” to 75.3 percent, still well above his record of 74.4 percent last season.

If he attempts the same number of passes next Sunday – which is also his season average for the nine games he started and completed – Brees needs to complete 26 (a 68.4 percent rate) to break the record again.

Brees has topped 70 percent in eight of the nine completed games this year.

Streak on the Line: Brees goes into Week 17 with 2,726 passing yards this season. With 274 yards against Carolina, Brees would have his 16th consecutive 3,000-yard season, tying Peyton Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history.

Brett Favre holds the record with 18 consecutive 3,000-yard seasons.

As a team, the Saints have 3,980 net passing yards (which, unlike individual stats, includes yards taken away for sacks). With 20 yards against Carolina, the Saints will extend their streak of consecutive seasons with 4,000 or more passing yards to 14.

Unusual Numbers: Titans wide receiver AJ Brown touched the ball twice on offense Sunday – on a 49-yard touchdown run and 34-yard reception.

The rookie out of Ole Miss is the first player in five years to have exactly two touches but gain at least 30 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving.

The last player to do it: Former Saint Joseph Morgan, who had a 67-yard run and 62-yard catch in 2014 against Baltimore.

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Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in 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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