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SmashMouth 11-30-2012 10:56 AM

New Orleans Saints will regret Thursday's loss to Atlanta Falcons more than any other in 2012: First take
The New Orleans Saints can't point to their 0-4 start for keeping them out of the playoffs anymore. Not after the way they blew one opportunity after another during Thursday night's 23-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

This will be the missed opportunity that lingers throughout the offseason as the Saints' dwell on what might have been - not anything that happened in September.
"I hate to say this game was a microcosm of our season, but it seems to be. A bunch of missed opportunities, and they bit us in the butt," said Saints receiver Lance Moore, whose dropped ball in the end zone early in the second half was one of a long list of self-inflicted wounds.

None of those were more costly than the career-high five interceptions thrown by quarterback Drew Brees on a stunningly off night -- except for maybe the unforgivable time management failure before halftime.

But the Saints can also point to poor pass protection, dropped balls, an awful start by the defense before they rallied later and a costly misstep in punt coverage, among other snafus.

Time and again, the Saints (5-7) shot themselves in the foot on a night when the Atlanta Falcons (11-1) played slightly better - but only by default.

"In this league, you have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. And when you don't, they come back to bite you," Saints guard Jahri Evans echoed. "This was a missed opportunity. We felt like we had these guys' number. And they just made the plays when they needed to, and we didn't."

"At this point, any game that we have that many self-inflicted wounds, needing wins as bad as we do, it's a missed opportunity," added Saints right tackle Zach Strief, who struggled in pass protection after returning from a groin injury. "We can't give up pressure like we did early. That leads to turnovers. And you can't win the game turning the ball over like we did."

No one, however, was more critical of himself than Brees, who was uncharacteristically off his game.

He was oddly out of sync with his receivers from the opening drive. And he made surprising mental errors as well - the most costly of which was his decision to throw underneath to tailback Darren Sproles at the Falcons' 3-yard line with no timeouts and not enough time left to spike the ball before halftime.

Brees blamed himself for that mistake, saying he thought there was more time left on the clock.

And he fell directly on the sword for the five interceptions, as well.

"That's the first time that has happened to me. So that's extremely disappointing," Brees said. "I pride myself on being a great decision-maker and a guy that's going to help us win the game, not be a detriment by turning the turning the ball over like that. ...

"I felt like our team really played their butt off today, in all phases. Were there mistakes made? All around, yes. But we played well enough to win today, with the exception - the glaring exception - of the turnovers."

Brees didn't try to sugarcoat the Saints' perilous situation now -- admitting that their playoff chances would require both a four-game win streak and help from other teams.

But he did make it clear that he hasn't lost any faith in his team's ability to win.

"It doesn't change the way I feel about this team," Brees said. "We've got a great team. These last two losses have been extremely tough, because I feel like we've played well enough to win in a lot of ways. And yet, there's just been some critical mistakes, some made by me. And that can't happen, that costs you games. I know better, and we know better. And I hold myself fully accountable for all of those.

"Listen, we're behind the eight-ball a little bit. But we've been in that situation all season, so really it's nothing different. It's hard to feel like we've squandered some opportunities, which I feel like we did the last two weeks. But we can't go back and change it. All we can worry about is basically the four-game season that we have left."

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Mardigras9 11-30-2012 10:59 AM

Re: New Orleans Saints will regret Thursday's loss to Atlanta Falcons more than any other in 2012: First take
Not just the Atlanta loss. Splitting with them is what most of us expected anyway. The loss the San Fran at home from mistakes will turn out to be the true dagger.

Rugby Saint II 11-30-2012 05:44 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints will regret Thursday's loss to Atlanta Falcons more than any other in 2012: First take

Originally Posted by WillSaints81 (Post 461772)
No, this loss hurts more. Because Atlanta is in our division and so many people keep waiting for them to overtake the saints because Ryan is younger.

Meg Ryan may be younger but that still doesn't make him smarter or a better QB.

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