Five Drew Brees interceptions later, the Saints fell to 5-7 and saw their playoff hopes all but dashed.
Though not mathematically eliminated, New Orleans looks to become just the sixth team to reach the postseason after starting a season with a 5-7 mark—the last being the San Diego Chargers back in 2008.
The Saints will need tons of help to grab one of the two wild-card spots in the NFC. Winning their final four games is imperative and the only thing this team has control over in their quest.
With a long layoff before Week 14's road matchup with the New York Giants, New Orleans will have plenty of time to sketch out the starting point of their playoff road map.
After the Giants game, the Saints will also play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys—two teams just ahead of them in the NFC. And to cap off the season, New Orleans draws the Carolina Panthers at home in a rematch to avenge Week 2's 35-27 loss.
If the Saints can win out, a 9-7 record could sneak them into the playoffs—though multiple scenarios and tiebreakers will certainly come into play.
Plain and simple, do the Saints have a shot at the postseason in 2012?
How New Orleans wins those games will be determined by their defense playing like it did against the Falcons on Thursday night and Brees leaving the worst game of his career in the rear-view mirror.
The Saints defense allowed Atlanta's offense only 283 total yards and forced a turnover. New Orleans would need similar results against the Giants, Buccaneers, Cowboys and Panthers to give this team a chance. And if Brees and Co. can get back on track, anything is possible.
The other teams that New Orleans would have to jump to reach the postseason are the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks; so it seems impossible at this point.
But if the Saints can somehow get a ticket to the dance, no team will look forward to drawing their number.
Follow Jeremy on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy.