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Brees, Saints set records, beat Panthers, 45-17

By Brett Martel

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 2 2012 3:55 a.m. MST

One week after breaking Dan Marino's 27-yard-old single-season record of 5,084 yards passing, Brees finished the 2011 campaign with 5,476 yards to go with 46 touchdown passes, fourth most in NFL history. First is New England's Tom Brady with 50 in 2007.

With six touchdowns against Carolina, the Saints finished with 66 this season, breaking the 2009 record of 64. New Orleans' 547 points smashed the 2009 club record of 510 and was the third highest total in league history. The NFL record of 589 points belongs to the 2007 Patriots.

Cam Newton closed out an otherwise spectacular rookie season by going 15 of 25 for 158 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

"It was embarrassing how we ended that game," Newton said. "Offense, defense, special teams, the whole nine yards, it was real tough."

The Saints had 360 yards of total offense in the first half, storming past the Rams' 2000 yardage record of 7,075.

Chris Ivory gave the Saints a 7-0 lead on the opening series with his 35-yard touchdown run.

Newton's 12-yard timing pass to Steve Smith tied the score at 7. Jonathan Stewart's 29-yard scoring run pulled the Panthers into another tie at 17 with 1:18 left in the half.

That was too much time for Brees, who connected on his long TD pass to Colston with 7 seconds on the clock to make it 24-17.

Notes: Colston became the first Saint with five 1,000-yard seasons, moving ahead of Joe Horn, who had four. ... Saints P Thomas Morstead averaged 47.9 yards per punt in 2011 to break his own club record. ... The Saints went 8-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. ... Carolina officials said after the game that CB Darius Butler had a broken arm, but they did not specify which one, while TE Greg Olsen had a concussion.

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