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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brees picks bad time to start tossing INTs

Things go from bad vs. San Francisco to worse in Atlanta

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METAIRIE, La. -- Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt scoffs at the idea that Drew Brees' recent and uncharacteristic interception epidemic is to blame for New Orleans' fading playoff hopes.

Vitt doesn't want the Saints' franchise quarterback to change a thing.

"When you have a great quarterback on your team, great quarterbacks can't have a conscience. They're going to stick tight throws. They're going to make great plays. And those great plays that great quarterbacks make take great courage. And that's just the truth," Vitt said Friday. "When you're on a little bit of a dry spell and maybe you wish you had a throw back or two, potentially bad things happen."

A lot of bad things have been happening to Brees in the past two losses.

Against San Francisco last Sunday, Brees had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in an 11-point loss. Then it got even worse in Atlanta on Thursday night, when Brees threw five interceptions and had a late-first-half lapse in clock management in a 23-13 loss to the rival Falcons.

Even Brees' NFL record 54-game streak with touchdown pass came to an end.

"I couldn't believe it. I've never seen anything like it," said Saints safety Roman Harper, the only player available Friday for interviews. "All I'm used to is the Drew we see every Sunday, not a Drew that has five turnovers or things like that and it was just off.

"We should have won the game. We just did not take advantage of the opportunities we needed to whether it's right before the half or a couple of the turnovers," Harper said. "We just can't put it all on Drew and say, 'Hey, if Drew has a bad game, we don't win the game.' Sometimes we've got to bail him about because he's bailed us out plenty of times."

Brees still threw for 341 yards, highlighted by numerous downfield completions. Perhaps the interception that deflected off of running back Chris Ivory's hands was bad luck. Perhaps the end of Brees' streak was bad luck, too, given Lance Moore's drop in the end zone.

But Brees blamed himself for the turnovers after the game, and for losing track of the clock late in the first half, when the Saints got inside the Atlanta 5 and came away empty.

Vitt said the best thing Brees can do now is have "amnesia" and come back ready to prepare for the New York Giants next week.

"We're all in this situation here now, and I'm talking about the success we've had over the last six years, because of guys like Drew Brees," Vitt said.

The Saints now figure they'll have to run the table to have a chance at a wild-card spot.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 C7

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