NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees looked even better than last year, which was bad news for a Detroit Lions team trying to win for the first time since 2007.
Brees tied a Saints record with six touchdown passes and threw for 358 yards yesterday as the Saints beat the Lions, 45-27, to extend Detroit's regular-season losing streak to 18 games.
Brees tied a mark set by Billy Kilmer in 1969 in a Saints victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Brees and the Saints square off against the Eagles next Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field (1 o'clock, Fox).
"I had a lot of opportunities out there. A lot of guys made some big plays in this game. Unfortunately, you always think about the ones that got away," Brees said. "There was probably one or two more that we left out there. That's what keeps you coming back."
Two of Brees' touchdown passes went to Jeremy Shockey, who hadn't scored since being traded from the New York Giants to New Orleans last season.
"It's good to get that asterisk off my name that I haven't ever scored a touchdown" with the Saints, Shockey said. "Being around a guy like Drew makes it so easy out there because he works so hard. If I get there at 6:10, he's there at 6:05. He's that kind of a guy."
Mike Bell led New Orleans' running game with a career-high 143 yards, carrying the ball with power, speed and elusiveness, and getting a standing ovation from the Louisiana Superdome crowd when he trotted off the field late in the fourth quarter.
Matthew Stafford's first start had its ups and downs. The 2009 top overall draft choice was 16 of 37 for 205 yards with three interceptions, two by Darren Sharper. He led two touchdown drives, capping one with his first NFL score on a short keeper. Lions safety Louis Delmas also returned a fumble for a 65-yard touchdown, which made it 38-27 late in the third quarter.
At times, the Lions made the types of mistakes symptomatic of long losing streaks. A few plays after Aaron Brown's 87-yard kickoff return, the Lions had a first-and-goal from the 1 late in the third quarter, but a false-start penalty against Daniel Loper helped the Saints force a field goal.
Soon after, Brees' pass to Devery Henderson deep down the middle went for a 58-yard score, putting New Orleans up 38-20.
Stafford's longest completion went to Calvin Johnson, who slipped Malcolm Jenkins' tackle on a crossing route and scampered 64 yards to the Saints' 3. That set up Stafford's TD.
That was nothing compared to the passing exhibition put on by Brees, who last season became only the second quarterback in NFL history to surpass 5,000 yards passing.
Brees completed his first three passes for 49 yards, including a 26-yarder to Reggie Bush and a 9-yard TD to Marques Colston. Brees' other TDs went for 39 yards to Robert Meachem, 1 and 15 yards to Shockey, and 13 yards to fullback Heath Evans.