Brees sets his records, teammate Thomas could be next

NFL

Drew Brees got the chance to celebrate a couple of records when he set the marks for career TD passes and best completion percentage in a game in another vintage performance.

Next up with an assault on the record book could be teammate Michael Thomas.

Thomas heads into the final two weeks of the season with 133 catches, the fourth most ever for a player in a season. Thomas could easily pass Antonio Brown and Julio Jones this next week against Tennessee. They both had 136 catches in 2015.

Even the top spot on the list is in range this week with Marvin Harrison having set the record with 143 receptions for the Colts in 2002.

Thomas has already caught at least 10 passes in a game a record eight times this season, including five times in the past seven games.

Thomas already has 454 catches since entering the league, the second most ever for a player in his first five seasons. Making that feat even more amazing is Thomas is still only in his fourth season after being drafted 47th overall – and sixth among receivers – in 2016.

Thomas needs 28 catches before the end of next season to pass Jarvis Landry for the most in a player’s first five years.

PLAYOFF TALK

The Patriots extended their record by clinching the playoffs for an 11th straight season. Three other teams have already qualified after missing out last season with Green Bay and San Francisco clinching in the NFC and Buffalo in the AFC. Minnesota can secure a playoff bid with one more win or a loss by the Rams after missing out on the postseason last year. Tennessee and Pittsburgh are the leading contenders for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. If any of those three teams qualify, it would mark the 30th straight season that featured at least four new playoff teams.

DOUBLE DOWN

There were 19 players this week who recorded at least two offensive touchdowns, led by the four from Arizona running back Kenyan Drake. That’s the second most players to score multiple offensive touchdowns in a single week in NFL history, trailing only the 20 from Week 13 in 1983. Among the players to accomplish the feat in 1983 were Hall of Famers Kellen Winslow, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett and John Riggins.

TERRIFIC TIGHT ENDS

Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and San Francisco’s George Kittle set a couple of impressive records for tight ends. Kelce topped 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season, the first tight end ever to do that. The only tight ends with four 1,000-yard seasons at any point are Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten.

Kittle increased his career total to 2,780 yards, the most for any tight end in the first three seasons of his career. Hall of Famer Mike Ditka had held the mark with 2,774.

GOOD JAMEIS, BAD JAMEIS

Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston continued his prolific season by posting back-to-back 450-yard passing games when he threw for 458 yards and four TDs in a win over Detroit. Brees is the only other player to do that in NFL history, coming in the playoffs following the 2011 season.

Winston also threw his league-worst 24th interception in the game to go along with his 30 TD passes. With one more interception, Winston will join Eli Manning (2010), Jay Cutler (2009) and Peyton Manning (1998) as the only QBs with at least 25 TD passes and interceptions in the same year over the past 25 seasons.

WINNER, WINNER

Seattle’s Russell Wilson earned his 86th career regular season win with two games remaining in his eighth season. He’s tied with Tom Brady for the most wins for a quarterback in his first eight seasons in NFL history. Brady did it without starting a game until Week 3 of his second season.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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