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Drew Brees' errors too much for New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees let down the New Orleans Saints' defense. That's how strange "Thursday Night Football" was this week.

On a night when the Saints' defense played more than well enough to win, Brees threw five interceptions in a 23-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Brees' streak of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown pass is over. His team's playoff hopes might have gone with it.

With the Saints at 5-7, we're not ready to stick a fork in them just yet. They will have to win out with games against the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. The Giants and Cowboys games are on the road. Since 2002, 20 percent of wild-card teams have been 9-7 or worse. It can happen, and the NFC field is filled with problematic 6-5 teams.

Focusing on the Saints' possible path misses the larger point. New Orleans just lost in back-to-back weeks to playoff teams by 10 points each. The Saints rallied from their 0-4 start, but they're no longer a "hot" or "dangerous" team. They are a squad that hasn't been able to put it all together in its biggest games this season. The Saints aren't peaking heading into December.

Brees' meltdown was disarming. It included a bad throw, a late throw, some bad luck, but mostly bad decisions. Brees butchered a clock-management situation at the end of the first half. He took a delay-of-game penalty and burned a silly timeout. He was off.

There were brilliant moments, but too much sloppiness from Brees and his teammates. They built too big of a hole, and they just couldn't climb out.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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