NEW ORLEANS —
Drew Brees got suspended coach Sean Payton in the building, broke a prestigious NFL passing record and led New Orleans to a desperately needed first win of the season.
For one memorable night, at least, the entire beleaguered Saints organization and its frustrated fans could celebrate a special moment in football history and recapture that winning feeling that had become commonplace before an offseason overshadowed by the NFL's bounty investigation.
Brees broke Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas' half-century-old record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, and the Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers 31-24 on Sunday night.
''I guess you really couldn't have written a better script for tonight,'' Brees said. ''To break the record, to get the win, and the fashion in which we won - really a complete team effort all the way around.
''The amazing thing about a record like this is it spans over the course of four seasons and hopefully we can keep it going to for a while,'' Brees said. ''There are so many people that are a part of this.''
Brees' 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson eclipsed the mark of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass Unitas set from 1956-60.
Brees said he was honored and humbled to break a record by a player he saw as a pioneer who stood for ''everything that's great in this league.''
Brees finished with four touchdown passes, including three to Marques Colston, giving the seventh-year receiver a franchise-record 52 TD catches with the Saints (1-4).
At Brees' request, the NFL allowed Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis - all serving various suspensions in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation - to attend the game. They and Unitas' son, Joe, saw Brees pass for 370 yards, enough to put Brees over 30,000 yards passing as a Saint in his 100th game with the club.