In a crucial game against their hated rival, the New Orleans Saints let too many opportunities slip away, falling to the Atlanta Falcons 23-13. With the defeat, the Saints playoff chances are pretty bleak at 5-7. Atlanta improves to 11-1 with the victory.

New Orleans had plenty of chances, but "shot themselves in the foot" one too many times. Late in the first half, the Saints had a first and goal with less than a minute to go and no timeouts. Poor clock management led to the Saints attempting to spike the ball with zero seconds left. Zero points on the drive resulted in a 10 point deficit at halftime.

At the beginning of the second half, Drew Brees and Pierre Thomas led the Saints offense right down in the field. On first and goal, Lance Moore dropped a TD pass. On second and goal, Mark Ingram fell to the turf after a well designed screen that would have resulted in a touchdown if he keeps his feet under him. Third down resulted in a short gain to Thomas. New Orleans could only muster 3 points on the drive.

"Certainly disappointed we couldn't get the job done," said interim Saints coach Joe Vitt. "We didn't get it done in the red zone tonight."

Brees was on the wrong side of history Thursday night in Atlanta. His NFL record of consecutive games with a thrown touchdown came to an end as he failed to throw one versus the Falcons. The record now stands at 54. Brees also throw a career-worst 5 interceptions. He finished 28 of 50 for 341 yards.

"In so many ways, we played well enough to win tonight," expalined Brees. "Unfortunately, turnovers will kill you everytime...(and)they were all my responsibility. I've got to find a way to get rid of those."

In the end, the Saints wracked up 436 total yards of offense, but could only scrape together 13 points on the scoreboard.

Defensively, New Orleans was weak on the opening drive of the game, but solid the rest of the way. Sure tackling and great angles to the football are two areas where the Saints D has struggled this year. Thursday against the Falcons, both areas (outside of the opening drive) were strengths for the Saints. The result was holding Atlanta to 1-11 on third downs, and only 283 total yards.

The Saints are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but need to win out and receive help to have any chance of making it in. Frankly, with the mistakes New Orleans has made the last two weeks, the Saints need to worry about winning a game before anything else.

"We're going to keep moving forward," said Thomas. "We've got to put this game behind us and get ready for the next game."

A week from this Sunday, the Saints will travel to New York to battle the 7-4 Giants. Kick-off is set for 3:25.