NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2012 ● MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME
SAINTS POSTGAME NOTES
*New Orleans finishes its season at 7-9 and in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC South.
*QB Drew Brees finished the season with 43 touchdown passes, a total that leads the NFL heading into Sunday's late games. Brees, who threw 46 touchdown passes last season, joins Dan Marino (1984, 1986) as only the second signal-caller to have two seasons with 40 or more touchdown passes. Marino had 48 in 1984 and 44 in 1986. Brees led the NFL in touchdown passes for a fourth time, tying the NFL record held also by Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson, Steve Young and Brett Favre.
*Brees completed 29-of-43 passes for 396 yards with four touchdown passes, one interception and a 118.0 passer rating. Brees ended his season with 5,177 passing yards, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in three different seasons.
*Brees heads into Sunday's late games as the NFL's leader in passing yards. If he leads the league, it will be the fourth time in his seven seasons as a Saint he has led the league in passing yards (2006, 2008, 2011).
*Brees extended his NFL record streak of games with at least 20 completions to 52.
*WR Marques Colston had five receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns. He ends the 2012 season with 532 career receptions, tied with Eric Martin for the most in franchise history.
*WR Lance Moore had four receptions for 121 yards (30.3 avg.), including a season-long 51-yard grab. Moore finishes the season with 65 receptions for a 1,041 yards – his first career 1,000-yard season. With both Moore and Colston going over the 1,000-yard mark, it marks the second consecutive season that two Saints have posted 1,000 yards receiving and the third time in franchise history overall. It is the second time two Saints wideouts have done this as Joe Horn (1,265) and Willie Jackson (1,046) previously reached the mark in 2001.
*TE Jimmy Grahamfinished with nine receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown. He ends the season with a team-best 85 receptions for 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
*RB Darren Sproles had eight receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. He ends the season with 75 receptions and upped his two-season Saints total to 161 catches, 15 more than he had in his first six NFL seasons.
*RB Mark Ingram led the Saints with 39 yards rushing on 10 carries. He finished 2012 with a team-leading 602 rushing yards – exactly one yard less than Sproles' team-leading total in 2011.
*K Garrett Hartley converted a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter, matching the career-long he set earlier this season, also against Carolina.
*While P Thomas Morstead fell short of setting the NFL season record for net punting average, he did finish with a franchise record gross average of 50.1 yards per punt. It is only the sixth time in NFL history a punter has averaged at least 50 yards per boot for a full season, going into Sunday afternoon's late games (Miami's Brandon Fields can become the seventh). Morstead was selected to his first Pro Bowl earlier this week.
LB Jonathan Vilma led the Saints with eight tackles (four solo), but he made his biggest play of the game in the second quarter, when he picked off Carolina QB Cam Newton* **and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. It is the second interception return for a touchdown of Vilma's career, the first occurring in his rookie year in 2004. It was the fourth interception return for a touchdown by the Saints in 2012, tying them with the 2000 squad for the third-highest total in franchise history.
*DE Will Smith played in his 139th career game, moving him past C John Hill (1975-84) for sole possession of 14th place on the club's all-time games played list.
DT Brodrick Bunkley recorded a sack in the first quarter of Carolina QB Cam Newton* **for a three-yard loss, forcing the Panthers to their 2-yard line.
*The Saints did not lose a fumble Sunday, finishing the season with five lost fumbles. That tied the franchise record for fewest fumbles lost. The 2011 team also had five lost fumbles.
*The Saints ended the season with 6,574 net yards, second-most in franchise history. Last year's team set an NFL record with 7,474 net yards.
*The Saints' 4,997 net passing yards also rank second in franchise history, behind only the 5,347 of last season, which also was an NFL record. New Orleans fell three yards short of becoming the fifth team in NFL history to reach 5,000 net passing yards.