Brees sets mark, Chargers-Saints tied 7-7 after 1

BRETT MARTEL
Associated Press
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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts after completing a touchdown pass for his 48th consecutive game, breaking Johnny Unitas' NFL record which stood for over 50 years, during an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees passed for a touchdown in an NFL-record 48th straight game, and the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers were tied at 7 after one quarter on Sunday night.

Brees' 40-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson tied the game late in the first quarter and surpassed the mark of 47 straight games with a touchdown that Johnny Unitas set between 1956 and 1960.

After the completion, Brees galloped to the end zone to hug Henderson. The rest of New Orleans' offense pursued and swarmed around Brees in celebration.

Brees then took the game ball to the sideline where he continued to accept congratulations. The scoring pass capped an 80-yard drive in which Brees completed all three of his third-down passes, including the touchdown connection with Henderson.

Philip Rivers staked San Diego to a 7-0 lead with a 15-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Robert Meachem, marking the former Saints receiver's first touchdown since signing with the Chargers in free agency last winter.

Meachem snatched the ball from Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins in tight coverage, capping a drive that also included completions of 39 and 32 yards from Rivers to Malcom Floyd.

Rivers was 6 of 10 for 98 yards in the opening period.

Brees was 8 of 11 for 81 yards, looking more like the quarterback he was last season while several special guests looked on from the suites.

At Brees' request, the NFL allowed head coach Sean 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, so long as they did not have contact with the team. It was the first time this season any of them were in attendance for a Saints game.

Vitt is expected to take over the coaching staff when his six-game suspension ends. Loomis was docked eight games. With the Saints coming into the game at 0-4, the Saints desperately needed to win to salvage some faint hope of a playoff berth before Vitt and Loomis resumed their work.

Unitas' son, Joe, also was in attendance after sending a letter to Saints headquarters during the past week in which he wished Brees the best in the Saints quarterback's attempt to break his father's record.