Brees throws 5 picks, Saints fall to Falcons 23-13
ATLANTA (AP) — Drew Brees said the Saints played winning football against the Falcons in every category but turnovers.
"Unfortunately, the turnovers far outshadow the rest," Brees said.
Brees threw a career-high five interceptions and his record touchdown streak ended in New Orleans' 23-13 loss to Atlanta on Thursday night.
The Saints (5-7) have dropped two in a row, pushing them to the edge of the playoff race, and they know winning their final four regular-season games still might not be enough to make the postseason.
"The future as far as the playoffs goes looks pretty bleak right now," assistant head coach Joe Vitt said.
The Saints fell behind 17-0 before scoring 13 unanswered points to get back in the game. William Moore's two interceptions stopped the New Orleans comeback.
Brees' five-interception game came four days after he had two passes picked off and returned for touchdowns in a loss to San Francisco.
"A couple of critical mistakes cost us the game, and I'm OK saying that because I hold myself accountable," Brees said. "Really there have been some critical mistakes in the last two weeks that have cost us dearly."
He had never before thrown more than four interceptions in a game.
"That's the first time that's ever happened to me, so that's extremely disappointing," Brees said. "I pride myself on being a good decision-maker and not someone who will be a detriment to the game."
Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in 54 consecutive games. He broke Johnny Unitas' long-standing record earlier this season.
"I realize that. I guess records are made to be broken and at some point they come to an end," he said. "I felt like we could have taken that one for a while."
Brees' scoring pass to Darren Sproles late in the first half was nullified by a penalty. Lance Moore dropped a ball in the end zone.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said Brees' streak was "unbelievable."
"Drew Brees is an outstanding quarterback," Smith said. "The way the defense played tonight speaks volumes. The guys had gone out there and thrown touchdown after touchdown game after game after game."
New Orleans had won four in a row in the series.
Mark Ingram scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter for the Saints' only touchdown. Garrett Hartley kicked two field goals.
The Falcons (11-1) will clinch the NFC South with a month to go if Tampa Bay loses at Denver on Sunday.
After Sproles' TD was wiped off the board, Brees allowed the clock to run out in the first half when the Saints had the ball inside the Atlanta 10. Time ran out following a short pass to Sproles.