The record-setting scoring strike was a 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson against the San Diego Chargers. After the completion, Brees raced to the end zone to greet Henderson, who incidentally wears the same No. 19 that Unitas wore for the Baltimore Colts.
The rest of New Orleans' offense pursued and swarmed around Brees in celebration. Brees then took the game ball to the sideline where he continued to accept congratulations.
Unitas set the record between 1956 and 1960 and no one had come within 10 games until Brees began to close in late last season. Tom Brady has the third-longest streak, extending his to 37 games Sunday in a victory over Denver.
Coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis all three suspended in the NFL's bounty investigation were permitted by the NFL at Brees' request to attend the game.
Unitas' son, Joe, also was present.
Brees, meanwhile, continued to play at the prolific pace that had put him in position to break Unitas' record in the first place. His pinpoint pass to the back of the end zone in the second quarter helped Marques Colston snag his 50th touchdown catch, tying the franchise record set by Joe Horn in 2006.