ATLANTA A lingering media throng is a curious sight following ahistoric sporting event, conversing in hushed tones but bodies and eyes all facing one direction. On Thursday night in the Georgia Dome,those eyes faced the Saints locker room door, each pair straining to spot afuture Hall of Fame quarterback.
After years of playing Atlantastormenter, Drew Brees feel back to Earth against the Falcons defense Thursday losingto the NFC South rival for just the third time in his Saints career. But thegame was not Brees only loss of the night.
Brees NFL-record streak of 54 straightgames with a touchdown pass came to an end as well, a historic accomplishment for adefense Brees has toyed with for years.
I realized it. I guess records aremeant to be broken and at some point they come to an end, said Brees, whopassed for 341 yards and five interceptions in the 23-13 loss. Its tough, wefelt like we could have kept that one (going) for a while.
Brees broke Hall of Fame quarterbackJohnny Unitas record of 48 consecutive games earlier this season against the San DiegoChargers. Before Thursdays game, Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in every game sinceWeek 4 of the 2009 season.
The cruel irony of the story is the opponent andthe timing.
Brees had won four straight gamesagainst the Falcons 11 of 14 career matchups overall often posting back-breaking numbers in the process. In 15 games against Atlanta, hes now thrown for 300 ormore yards nine times.
The Falcons had notheld Brees scoreless since 2006.
I didnt realize that (we ended thestreak) and we walked off the field and somebody told me, Falcons coach MikeSmith said. Its an unbelievable streak. Drew Brees is an outstandingquarterback. That guy has gone outthere and thrown touchdown after touchdown, game after game after game. Justsays a whole bunch about the way out football team played tonight.
In his postgame interview, Brees said hefelt better about the offense than he had at any point in the season thepreparation, the passing game, it was all there. But not only did his historictouchdown mark conclude, he also threw a career-high five interceptions on thenight. Safe to say, it was a night to forget.
It doesnt really matter how they happened,though. The fact is there was five of them, and thats the first time its everhappened, Brees said of his interceptions. Thats extremely disappointing. I pride myself on beinga great decision-maker and a guy thats going to help us win the game and notbe a detriment and turn the ball over like that. I can hold myselfaccountable.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback haslong talked about the meaning of the streak to him personally hisrecord-breaking throw to wide receiver Devery Henderson in October sent him barreling towardhis receiver, arms raised as even Unitas son, Joe, wrote him a letterfollowing the game. Brees called the experience humbling.
And after it was all over, with thehorde of microphones and recorders circling his position on a makeshift platform, hewas not about to dismiss the accomplishement or put it squarely in his illustrious past.
It doesnt take away how special itis.