With New Orleans trailing the Atlanta Falcons 17-7 in the closing stages of the first half Thursday night, the Saints blew a ripe opportunity to score points after driving inside the Falcons 5-yard line.
With 45 seconds left to play in the half and no timeouts remaining, Saints quarterback Drew Brees connected with running back Darren Sproles for 12 yards to get down to the Atlanta 5-yard line. Brees took the next snap with just 12 seconds left in the half and hit Sproles again over the middle for three yards as the clock continued to tick away. The Saints were unable to stop the clock before the half expired as New Orleans left at least three points on the field for failing to handle the clock correctly.
Brees took the blame after the game for losing track of how much time was left on the clock.
“Honestly I thought we had more time than we did,” Brees said. “Last time I looked up at the clock I saw 17 seconds so I thought we had time to throw one underneath and get up there and clock it. Unfortunately the clock was down to seven by the time I looked back up at it after getting the completion and it wasn’t enough time to get a spike.”
“That’s my mistake. That can’t happen,” Brees said. “We’ve got points, at least three, and definitely another shot at the end zone so that was on me. That can’t happen.”
The Saints took over with 2:13 left in the half at their own 29-yard line. Brees hit Lance Moore for 29 yards before the two-minute warning and Marques Colston for another 21 yards to move down to the Falcons 21-yard line. A touchdown pass to Sproles was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty, but the Saints still had a chance to put points on the board before time expired.
“I felt like we managed the clock excellently all the way down,” Brees said. “Then, unfortunately, once we got inside the 10, just lost track of it there for a second. Thought I had more time than we did.”