Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 34-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night:
What it means: There was a school of thought among some New Orleans fans that, with the Saints playing better the past two games and interim head coach Joe Vitt returning from a six-game suspension, everything would change. The hope was the Saints would go on a miraculous run to turn their season around and make it to the playoffs. There were no miracles in Denver and that means the chances of a miraculous run to the playoffs have dwindled to almost zero. The Saints are 2-5 and they’re in third place in the NFC South. This may have been the ugliest New Orleans loss in recent years because the Saints rarely have been so thoroughly beaten.
Critical call: With the game tied 7-7, the Saints faced a fourth-and-2 near midfield with 9:17 left in the second quarter. Vitt has been Sean Payton’s right-hand man since 2006 and I think the interim head coach made the same decision the suspended coach would have made. He left the offense on the field and went for the first down. The only difference is that Vitt didn’t get the same result Payton usually got when he made bold moves in the past. Instead, quarterback Drew Brees was intercepted. Five plays later, the Broncos scored a touchdown that put them in control the rest of the night.
Making history: New Orleans became the first defense in NFL history to give up 400 yards of total offense in seven straight games.
It’s not all on the defense: The numbers ended up being lousy. But, at least early on, the defense played much better than I expected against Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. The Saints got a fumble recovery and a couple of first-half stops before getting worn down in the second half. I think you can put the blame for that on Brees and the offense. Brees was uncharacteristically inaccurate, there was no running game and the offense never really got into a rhythm. If the Saints are going to have any chance at winning, their offense has to put up big numbers. That didn’t come close to happening.
Milestone time: The one highlight of the night was Brees’ second-quarter touchdown pass to Darren Sproles. It was the 300th of his career and ties him with Dan Marino for No. 6 on the all-time list.
What’s next: The Saints host the Philadelphia Eagles in a "Monday Night Football" game on Nov. 5.