Saints’ Brees now fifth on NFL list for career passing yards

ATLANTA — With his sixth completion of Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons, Saints quarterback Drew Brees moved into fifth place on the NFL’s career passing yards list.

Brees began the night needing just 38 yards to pass Hall of Famer Warren Moon’s total of 49,325. Brees shot past Moon on an 18-yard swing pass to running back Pierre Thomas on the Saints’ second possession, which eventually produced their first touchdown.

Brees finished with 278 yards and now has 49,566 yards for his 13-year career. He trails only Brett Favre (71,838), Dan Marino (61,361), Peyton Manning (60,957) and John Elway (51,475) on the league’s all-time list.

DEJA DUNK: As he does after each of his touchdowns, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, a former college basketball player, dunked the ball over the crossbar to celebrate a 44-yard scoring catch in the second quarter.

The problem was Graham pulled himself up on the crossbar, causing it to lean to one side. There was a two-minute delay as workers came out with a ladder and level and scrambled to get the crossbar back in place for Garrett Hartley’s extra-point attempt.

Graham did the same thing after a 21-yard TD in the same end zone in 2011 against the Falcons when his two-handed stuff wobbled the crossbar before it leaned to one side.

EVANS, SPROLES OUT: Right guard Jahri Evans and running back Darren Sproles topped the list of Saints’ inactives for Thursday night’s game.

Evans has an ankle injury and Sproles has been bothered by ankle and knee problems. Both missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday as the Saints dealt with a short week following Sunday’s win against the San Francisco 49ers.

It’s the second time Evans, an eight-year veteran, missed a game this season. In Week 3, he dressed out but did not play because of a hamstring injury. Prior to that, he had played in 122 games in a row — 114 in the regular season.

Undrafted rookie Tim Lelito started in Evans’ place as he did in the Week 3 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

INACTIVES: Other inactives for the Saints were DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), WR Nick Toon, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, CB Trevin Wade and QB Ryan Griffin. Wade was signed by the team on Tuesday.

The Falcons’ inactives were DE Malliciah Goodman (calf), RB Josh Vaughan, S Kemal Ishmael, LB Omar Gaither, WR Brian Robiskie, T Sean Locklear and G Harland Gunn.

INJURIES: Saints DT Glenn Foster left the game in the third quarter with an injury to his left leg. … Falcons CB Desmond Trufant suffered a thigh injury in the second quarter, but returned in the second half.

WATSON’S BACK: Sants tight end Benjamin Watson, who missed Sunday’s game with a concussion, was back and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brees to cap the Saints’ second drive of the game.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was also sidelined for last week’s game after suffering a concussion on Nov. 10, returned and started.

ROBISKIE REUNION: Brian Robiskie is the son of Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, the former LSU running back.

Terry Robiskie, who’s been with the Falcons since 2008, is in his 32nd season as an NFL coach. Brian Robiskie was signed by the Falcon on Oct. 10 following a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones.

GLEASON PROFILED: The NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series “A Football Life” will spotlight former Saints special teams standout Steve Gleason on Tuesday night.

The show, which will focus on Gleason’s playing career and his nearly three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, will air at 8 p.m. CST Tuesday with an encore showing at 10 p.m. A special half-hour “A Football Life: Backstory,” also about Gleason, will air at 9 p.m.

LAGNIAPPE: Graham’s touchdown was his 11th of the season, tying his career high that he set in 2011. … Prior to Watson’s first-quarter touchdown, the Falcons had allowed just 16 points in the opening period of their first 10 games. … Saints strong safety Roman Harper, who missed seven games with a knee injury before returning last Sunday, started for the first time since a Week 2 game at Tampa Bay. … Thomas’ 18-yard run in the third quarter was his longest rush of the season by 5 yards.