Not the only time Saints got their stats

New Orleans' decision to keep passing Monday night in pursuit of Dan Marino's single-season yardage record has opened the Saints to criticism.

Coach Sean Payton knew it, which is why he addressed the subject without prompting following the Saints' 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

While NFL records are best achieved organically, at least the Saints were honest about what was happening. An interest in racking up stats doesn't preclude a team from valuing winning the most.

NFC West fans might recall Arizona's Matt Leinart throwing a 7-yard pass to Steve Breaston with 53 seconds left in a 2008 Week 17 game the Cardinals led, 34-21. The completion gave the Cardinals three 1,000-yard receivers.

Relatively few were watching in Week 8 this season when the Saints sustained Drew Brees' streak of games with at least one touchdown pass. Brees ran seven plays in the final 46 seconds while the Saints trailed the St. Louis Rams, 31-14. His 8-yard scoring pass to Lance Moore with 6 seconds remaining kept alive the streak.

The Saints trailed in that game, so circumstances were different than they were Monday night. Running up the score was not an issue. Teams regularly fight to the finish when losing. The streak was still foremost on my mind when watching Brees operate frenetically with no chance at winning the game.

Brees extended the streak in a 31-21 defeat. The streak has subsequently grown to 42 games with at least on Brees scoring pass. Johnny Unitas holds the record (47 games).