NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees summed up his record-tying performance by harping on "the ones that got away."
If he can do better than this, look out.
Brees tied a Saints' single-game record with six touchdown passes and threw for 358 yards as the New Orleans Saints beat Detroit 45-27 Sunday to extend the Lions' regular-season losing streak to 18 games.
"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," said Brees, who shares a franchise mark set by Billy Kilmer in 1969. "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 safety Darren Sharper, the other by linebacker Scott Shanle.
"It was tough. Playing from behind is never easy," Stafford said. "Some of those balls I was throwing, I was just trying to get rid of it and not take a sack. ... I'm fine. I've thrown three picks in a game before. Obviously, I don't like to lose. I wish I could play better, but I've got to learn from it."
Stafford 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.
The Lions had some highlights of their own and stayed in the game until the fourth quarter, offering hope they may eventually win before reaching Tampa Bay's record of 26 straight losses.
At times, however, they also made mistakes symptomatic of a team with a long losing streak. A few plays after Aaron Brown's 87-yard kickoff return, Daniel Loper was called for a false start on a first-and-goal from the 1 late in the third quarter and the Lions wound up with only 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.
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.
New Detroit coach Jim Schwartz didn't let his defense escape blame, however.
"Good gracious. What wouldn't disappoint me? Points allowed, third-down defense, red zone defense, rushing," he said. "There's no silver lining in that performance."
Bush returned for the Saints after missing three preseason games and had 55 yards receiving and 14 yards rushing. He fumbled two punts, recovering one himself and turning the other over. He also had a 4-yard TD run called back by a holding penalty.
The Lions could not have opened the game much worse. New Orleans first two drives started near midfield and the Saints led 14-0 before six minutes elapsed on Brees' TD passes to Colston and Meachem.
- Sharper has 56 career regular season interceptions.
- Saints punter Thomas Morstead, a fifth-round draft pick, also had kickoff duties with 45-year-old John Carney handling field goals. Morstead put his first three kickoffs into the end zone.
- Carney hit a 39-yard field goal, but also had one blocked.
- Detroit had 235 return yards on kickoffs and punts and 231 net yards on offense.
- Lions CB Eric King started for injured Phillip Buchanon (neck) and was beaten on TD passes to Colston, Meachem and Henderson.
- Meachem had 148 yards on six kickoff returns.
- Saints LT Jermon Bushrod left with a bruised right knee but returned before the game ended.