Suspended New Orleans Coach Sean Payton watches the Saints play the San… (Dave Martin / Associated…)
Sean Payton was there on Oct. 18, 2009, when New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for four touchdowns in a 48-27 victory against the New York Giants. No one knew it at the time, but the Saints head coach was witnessing the start of one of the most incredible streaks ever in the NFL.
Brees wanted to make sure that Payton, suspended for the season by the league in connection with the Saints' bounty scandal, was in the building 47 games later, when the quarterback was poised to break Johnny Unitas' half-century-old record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
The league granted Brees' special request, so Payton — as well as Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt and General Manager Mickey Loomis, both of whom are also serving suspensions in connection with the bounty scandal — were on hand for the Saints-San Diego Chargers game at the Superdome on Sunday night just in case something historic happened.
And it did. Brees hooked up with Devery Henderson for a 40-yard touchdown with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter to make it an all-time best 48 straight games with a scoring pass. Unitas did it in 47 consecutive games from 1956-60.
“It gave us a good mojo for sure,” Brees said of Payton's presence. “I love my coach, so glad he could be here. Mickey and Joe Vitt as well. It is special for our team, special they could be a part of this record.”
The Saints got their first win of the season, 31-24, as Brees finished with four touchdown passes, just like he did on the day his streak started nearly three years ago.
“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.”
And thanks to Brees, a few of those people got to be part of it as history was made.
"Obviously, I felt like this night wouldn’t have been the same without [Payton] in the building," Brees said. "And Mickey Loomis, and Joe Vitt. To have all those guys [here] and to spend a little time with them, to share in the historic moment, was special.”
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.