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Brees sets NFL career record with 540th touchdown pass

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Washington (AFP)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees set an NFL record Monday night by throwing his 540th career touchdown pass in a game against the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

The 40-year-old signal caller, who guided New Orleans to the 2010 Super Bowl, set the mark with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter on a five-yard scoring toss to Josh Hill.

A jubilant Brees celebrated the feat with his teammates as the Saints stretched their lead in the game to 27-0.

Brees made two touchdown throws in the second quarter to match the old mark of 539 set by retired star Peyton Manning.

Brees entered the contest with 537 career NFL touchdown passes, one behind New England's 42-year-old Tom Brady, still leading the Patriots as they try to defend the Super Bowl crown, and two shy of Manning.

The record came for Brees on his 20th completion in a row, which set a new career consecutive completions high for him.

Brees reached the mark in 273 games, seven more than Manning played in setting the record.

Brees appeared to have broken the record with seven seconds remaining in the second quarter but receiver Tre'Quan Smith was penalized for offensive pass interference for pushing off a defender's back.

The Saints settled for a 26-yard Wil Lutz field goal and a 20-0 half-time lead. Brees completed 20-of-21 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

Brees matched Manning's mark of 539 career touchdown passes with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter on a 21-yard scoring strike across the middle to Smith just over the goal line as New Orleans seized a 17-0 advantage.

Brees made his first touchdown pass, a 15-yarder over the middle to Michael Thomas, just 2:23 into the second quarter as the Saints grabbed a 10-0 lead, New Orleans having opened the scoring on a 33-yard Lutz field goal.

The Saints drove 90 yards in 12 plays over more than six minutes to set up the Brees TD toss that matched Brady for second on the all-time list.

Thomas made a five-yard reception from Brees early in the third quarter to reach 10 or more catches for an eighth game this season, breaking the one-season mark he had shared with Andre Johnson and Wes Welker.

Thomas entered with an NFL-best 121 catches this season for a league-high 1,424 yards.

He's now well ahead of the record pace of former Colt Marvin Harrison's one-season mark of 143 receptions from 2002.

Thomas made nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

The Saints (10-3) have already clinched a playoff berth but need a victory to keep pace with National Conference leaders Green Bay and Seattle, both 11-3, in the fight for home-field advantage in the post-season.

The Colts (6-7) are on a three-game losing streak and need a victory to sustain their playoff hopes.

The Saints have won their past three meetings with the Colts, including the 2010 Super Bowl.

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