ATLANTA - The Falcons awoke to news of their disgraced quarterback being sentenced to nearly 2 years in prison for dogfighting.
The day never got any better.
With Reggie Bush watching from the sideline, Drew Brees passed for 328 yards and three touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints bounced back from a devastating loss with last night's 34-14 rout of Atlanta.
The Falcons (3-10) showed just how much they miss Michael Vick, who was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison about 10 hours before his ex-teammates kicked off another game in a lost season.
Even though Bush wasn't able to play because of a partially torn knee ligament that likely will keep him out the rest of the season, the Saints (6-7) had no trouble getting over the disappointment of their last-minute loss to Tampa Bay a week earlier.
Brees shredded the Falcons' defense for four scoring drives that covered at least 75 yards, including a 99-yarder. He opened with a 25-yard touchdown pass to David Patten, hooked up with Marquis Colston on a pair of shorter TD throws, and would have had another score if Eric Johnson had not dropped a pass in the end zone.
By winning, New Orleans boosted its wild-card hopes and prevented Tampa Bay from clinching the division title.
Meanwhile, two Falcons tried to show their solidarity with Vick, sending messages that almost surely will draw fines from the image-conscious NFL.
Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who played with Vick at both Virginia Tech and in Atlanta, ran onto the field holding up a poster of Vick and played the game with "MV7" written on the shade under both eyes.
Late in the first quarter, Atlanta receiver Roddy White pulled up his jersey after hauling in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Chris Redman, revealing a black shirt with the message "Free Mike Vick" in white letters. *