He needed 11 catches to break the record set by Marvin Harrison in 2002 with the Indianapolis Colts for catches in a single season. Michael Thomas got 12 on 17 targets for 136 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad day at the office.
The 17 year record had only been legitimately threatened twice since it was set (classifying “threatened as being within 10 catches”. Both Antonio Brown and Julio Jones had 136 catches in 2015. Last season Thomas got within 20 receptions of the record when he finished with 125 catches. All of these are of course Saints records as well.
That’s the record-breaker. Michael Thomas makes his 144th reception, a new single-season record!— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2019
Congrats, @Cantguardmike! #Saints
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It was only fitting that the catch came with him fighting his way into the end zone. Review of the play ended up ruling him down mere inches from the end zone. Head Coach Sean Payton would call his number two plays later with a simple drag route to make sure he got the touchdown he had earned.
Saints QB Drew Brees said of Thomas after the game, “There’s nobody that deserves it more and there’s nobody that works harder for it. Every rep he takes is a Super Bowl rep. He’s a model for perfection and how to be a pro.”
What might make Thomas’ record breaking season more impressive is he’s doing it with almost no help from the rest of the receiver room. When Harrison set the record in 2002 he was playing with a young Reggie Wayne who would later become a Pro Bowl & All Pro receiver himself. Thomas has over 1,000 yards more in receiving than the nearest receiver on the roster.
You would think this means defenses could simply focus in on him and take him out of the game, but it’s just never that simple.
Thomas’ stat line this season now reads 145 catches, 1,688 yards and 9 touchdowns. There’s still one game left to play. We’ll see how far he can extend his new record and then we’ll just have to wait and see if, and when, it gets broken in the future.