NEW ORLEANS - The final game of the New Orleans Saints 2012 season was historical for the offense and defense.
The Saints lost 44-38 to the Carolina Panthers. Securing a losing season (7-9) in New Orleans.
The loss was a microcosm of a turbulent 2012 for the Saints.
Drew Brees was spectacular. The franchise quarterback eclipsed 5,000 total yards passing yards for the third time in his career. Brees passed for 396 yards, giving him 5,177 this season. That makes him the first player to eclipse 5,000 yards three times. His four TD passes gave him 43 in 2012, and he's the first player with 40 TD passes in consecutive seasons.
The Saints defense: a liability. The defensive unit allowed 530 total yards to Carolina, raising their season total to 7,042 to break the old record of 6,793 allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.
Despite the loss, New Orleans heads into the off-season with Sean Payton locked into a five-year contract.
Payton signed a new deal with the Saints during the final week of the regular season. The head coach will return from a year-long suspension, following the NFL's investigation into a bounty scandal, whereby Saints players and coaches were accused of paying players to injure the opposing teams' offensive players.