BAYHAM: #Awful

Five interceptions.

The “BrUnitas” streak ended.

An opportunity to break into the playoff picture squandered.

Game over.

Season over.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had the second worst day in his professional football career in Atlanta on Thursday night.

His worst day of course being the final game of the 2005 season while with the San Diego Chargers when his shoulder got mangled against the Denver Broncos.

On Thursday night football, the $100 million man was far from bionic. It could truly be said that the Saints’ best player cost his team the game and then some.

That it was to the benefit of the hated Atlanta Falcons compounds things. Especially after the egging the team’s bus received courtesy of some airport workers.

I generally turn a blind eye to that kind of prankery, but I hope the culprits are not just disciplined, but fired. To merely blow off this kind of antic at an airport, a center of hypersecurity in our post-9/11, is to invite others to push the envelope further.

While Atlanta is not exactly a slice of heaven, it’s not Caracas either. And it seems some its denizens need to be reminded of this.

When “hating” devolves to “assault”, serious punishment needs to be meted out to underscore the severity of the crime.

What happened in the Georgia Dome on Thursday night was the manifestation of a season that got cursed once word of the Saints’ “bountygate” reached the public’s ears.

“King Roger’s” wrath finally caught up with the Black and Gold.

Had the Saints not been hit with penalties to its draft, front office, head coach and interim head coach, it’s likely the team would have started the 2012 regular season no worse than 2-2, instead of 0-4. Had the road trip to Atlanta played out exactly as it did in that scenario, the game would have been like a bad hangover to be exorcised with a trip to the post-season, even if only as a wild card.

Instead, many bad things converged in downtown Atlanta at a most inconvenient time.

The Atlanta Falcons not only creeped that much closer to securing the NFC South division and homefield advantage in the playoffs, they did so at the expense of their rivals while leaving the field with Drew Brees’s historic consecutive touchdown streak as an additional trophy.

Thursday night was a new low for the Sean Payton era Saints.

Brees failed not only as a passer but also as a field general. He inexplicably wasted precious seconds on the team’s last drive in the second quarter and then made a poor decision to target a receiver a few yards outside the endzone instead of taking a shot at the endzone or killing the clock by throwing the ball away.

That was Les Miles-like clock mismanagement and uncharacteristic of the franchise quarterback.

The Saints are not officially eliminated from contending for a playoff spot, but the road to the post-season looks arduous.

In addition to having to win the four remaining games on the schedule, the Saints need the five teams ahead of them to practically collapse. The early losses to the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers not only cost the team in the win column but with tiebreakers.

Last season, the Saints were only a single play away from hosting the NFC Championship game in the Superdome and possibly claiming its second Lombardi Trophy.

This season it was death by a thousand cuts with Brees’s picks against Atlanta counting as five of the largest.

The 2012 Saints are a far better team than their record reflects and the difference between where they are and where they should be is coaching.

Who Dats better hope Sean Payton doesn’t get too comfortable in his Goodell-imposed Dallas-exile.

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