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When Drew Brees became the NFL's career leader in yards passing

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he wanted to come up with some sort of gift to thank those who coached him, caught the 6,357 completions it took to set the record and blocked while he threw.His solution was an exhaustive process than involved the production of about 175 unique commemorative footballs and the enlisting Saints front office and public relations staff to help track down 99 receivers, 56 offensive linemen, 11 head or assistant coaches from his 18 pro seasons as well as others instrumental in his success.They began receiving their custom-made footballs this week, which pleased Brees because he wanted it done before Christmas."Naturally you start thinking, 'OK, well, a lot of people have caught those balls," Brees said. "So let's get a list of all the pass catchers and the number of catches and the number of yards and let's put together a game ball for them and put those statistics on there for them, so they know that they have a piece of this and they were an important part of it.'"That's how the effort started. But Brees soon realized he couldn't just limit it to receivers."It's not just about the receivers. It's about the guys blocking.' So it's like, 'All right, let's find every offensive lineman that's ever started a game.' So we did that," Brees said. "Then I started thinking about coaches. Then I started thinking about other people as well. So it was actually a long list. But I just wanted to do that for them."Even current Saints players, such as veteran tight end Ben Watson Authentic Wil Lutz Jersey , received the balls at their homes 鈥?not the mail room or locker room at Saints headquarters."It's him. It's surprising but it's not surprising at the same time that he would give a special thanks to the guys that helped him along the way," Watson said. "Obviously, this is his accomplishment. But him being the leader that he is, he loves to defer praise to other people."Watson said he was "Just thankful to be able to play with him and be able to contribute to the greatness that he's achieved."Recipients included rookie receiver Tre'Quan Smith, who caught the 62-yard touchdown pass in Week 5 against Washington on which Brees surpassed the 71,940 yards passing of previous record-holder Peyton Manning.Smith said Brees' gesture "shows what kind of guy he is, and you want to be around somebody like that, who shows appreciation."The package with ball included a typed letter signed by Brees. Receivers, linemen, coaches and other "contributors" each got different variations of the letter, depending on the nature of their roles in the record.The balls sent to retired players included the number of passes they caught from Brees and the total yardage of those catches. For example, the ball sent to Saints career receiving leader Marques Colston specifically recognized his 705 receptions for 9,709 yards.For current players, Brees didn't include such stats, which grown since Manning's old mark was eclipsed in October.Brees said he was gratified by text messages he'd received. Brandin Cooks sent him a video from the locker room at the headquarters of the former Saints receiver's current team Womens Cameron Jordan Jersey , the Los Angeles Rams.Former Chargers fullback Fred McCrary sent a video of himself holding his ball in a barber shop, boisterously bragging that he's "famous today."Brees said he'd also received a text Friday from former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson.Recipients that Brees considered "contributors" included Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who repaired the quarterback's heavily damaged throwing shoulder in 2006, as well as independent throwing coach Tom House, Saints owner Gayle Benson and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. Aaron Donald ripped the ball out of Matt Breida's hands to set up one touchdown. He harassed C.J. Beathard with four sacks and several other hits that helped shut down San Francisco's offense.Donald's dominance helped improve Los Angeles to 7-0 for the first time since 1985 with a 39-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and showed that the defense can play as big a role in the success as the Rams' high-powered offense."I don't think there's anybody that's been like him in the NFL," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "He's in a class of his own. At the end of the day, he's still an NFL player and our job is to block him. He was really impactful today."That's an understatement.Donald used his brute strength to set up one of Todd Gurley's three touchdowns with his fumble recovery in the first half for the Rams and got a couple of his sacks by just pushing offensive linemen into Beathard and knocking him down.After recording no sacks in his first three games following a training camp holdout, Donald now has eight in the past four games, showing why he earned that $135 million, six-year contract this summer."You feel him and he did a great job affecting and influencing the game in a variety of ways," coach Sean McVay said. "He was great against the run, did a good job of being able to get to Beathard on a handful of occasions. But, our defense overall, Aaron was a big part of that."Donald had plenty of help on defense with Cory Littleton getting two sacks and a blocked punt for a safety ; Troy Hill and John Johnson III intercepting passes; and Samson Ebukam getting an early strip sack that Trevon Young recovered."One of the best defensive performances I've been around," Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. "It seemed like every time we sat down we got back up and went on the field. ... It was just a lot of fun to watch."Here are some other takeaways from the game:GURLEY'S DAYGurley ran for 63 yards Authentic Ted Ginn Jr Jersey , caught four passes for 23 and had his third three-touchdown game of the season. His 14 TDs this season tie Priest Holmes (2002, '04) for the most through seven games in the Super Bowl era. His most memorable score was his last one when Goff somehow found him through traffic on a cross-field screen pass and Gurley broke a tackle from Reuben Foster and raced in for the 12-yard score ."It didn't play out quite the way we wanted it to," Goff said. "That's just me and him trying to make a play. He's a great player, try to get him the ball and he made it work."TURN IT OVERIt's hard to determine whether the 49ers are worse at creating turnovers or committing them. San Francisco ranks last in the league with three takeaways through seven games 鈥?tied for the fewest at this point in the season since the 1970 merger 鈥?and has committed the most with 18. The Niners have committed 14 turnovers since their last takeaway on Sept. 30 against the Chargers. Beathard has thrown seven interceptions and lost three fumbles in four starts."It's inexcusable," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "It's impossible to win in this league when you turn the ball over like we are and you when don't get any."LOOKING AHEADThe Rams barely had time to celebrate this victory before fielding questions about what comes next. Los Angeles is starting a tough four-week stretch that starts with a home game against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay next week, followed by a trip to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints, a home game against Seattle, then a game in Mexico City against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City."I think we just have to keep building off of today's game," cornerback Troy Hill said. "It's one of those things that we've been waiting for, and so now we just have to keep on stringing it together."BREIDA'S HEALTHBreida has shown good sparks as the team's main running back with 445 yards rushing and an NFL-best 6.5 yards per carry. But the second-year back has struggled to stay healthy as he has been hampered by shoulder, knee and ankle injuries. He was limited to five carries against the Rams after rolling his ankle but might need some time off to fully heal."I tried to keep on playing," he said. "I have to be smart and not hurt my team at the same time. If I can't go out there and go 100 percent, I have to let the guys that can do it."

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