NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - What started out as a hopeful evening for the New Orleans Saints turned into a night of mistakes and missed opportunities as the men in black and gold fell to the Atlanta Falcons 45-32 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Before the game started, the Saints remembered Steve Gleason's first quarter punt block that energized the team toward a win against the Falcons on Sept. 25, 2006. That game was the first time the Saints played in the dome since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
A statue outside the Superdome commemorates the moments as the "rebirth" of the Saints in the City of New Orleans.
For the first time in the Superdome rebirth era, the Saints lost a Monday night game to the Falcons, ending a five-game streak in that department.
After playing lights out against the New York Giants a week ago, the Saints defense instead was lit up for 442 yards of offense Monday night. Drew Brees had a streak of 305 passes without an interception abruptly end as well while trying to force a pass into tight coverage that was deflected into a pick six.
"They were both going for the ball and it just ended up getting tipped up to a linebacker that's making his way over there," Brees said. "It's one of those that usually goes to the ground, but in this case, it got tipped up and he was right there to make the play.
"Bottom line, there's no magic formula, there's no magic offensive play or defensive scheme that's going to win you a game. It is about each guy just doing what they're coached to do [and] doing it to the best of their ability. There are going to be mistakes made at times, but let's not be a team that is going to beat themselves by doing the things we know will get you beat."
The Saints were without key players on both sides of the ball. Willie Snead, Kenny Vaccaro, Terron Armstead, and top corners Delvin Breaux and PJ Williams were all inactive. However, head coach Sean Payton refuses to blame the injury report.
"That's not going to be an excuse," Payton said. "That is not going to be an excuse for not playing smart."
Payton was referring to his team's punt return that ending up being the first turnover of the game. De'Vante Harris collided with Tommylee Lewis, who was the returner on the play, causing a muffed punt and a recover by the Falcons in the red zone.
"It's a terrible play," Payton said. "That is two weeks in a row now that we got a play in special teams that resulted in seven points. It's our job, my job, it starts with me, as coaches to make sure we understand and that we correct things that keep us from even having a chance to win a game."
A brutal October schedule awaits the 0-3 Saints. Next week, they go on the road at San Diego. Then they host Carolina. Then, at Kansas City and finally back home against Seattle.