What we learned from the Patriots’ stunning win over the Saints

Kenbrell Thompkins Patriots
Kenbrell Thompkins hauls in the winning touchdown over Jabari Greer Sunday in Foxboro. Credit: Getty Images

What we learned in the Patriots’ stunning 30-27 victory over the Saints Sunday at Gillette Stadium:

Hangin’ tough
You never want to give Tom Brady too many chances, particularly late in a game. The previously undefeated Saints did not adhere to that rule as they gave Brady and the Patriots three late fourth quarter opportunities to punch one in, with the final drive proving costly.

Following a Drew Brees 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, the Pats got the ball back with 3:29 remaining at their own 20. They went nowhere and on fourth-and-6, Aaron Dobson dropped the ball on a slant that would have picked up the first down. It appeared at that moment that the Pats would drop to 4-2 on the season.

But a sharp Pats defense held the Saints to a field goal and Brady got the ball back again relatively quickly, with 2:24 remaining. Brady immediately took a chance deep, looking for Julian Edelman, but Keenan Lewis picked it off and it once again looked as though the Patriots were done for the day. Not so.

With no time outs remaining, the Pats defense held firm again, with Chandler Jones sacking Brees on third-and-7. New Orleans punted and Brady still had 1:13 to work with from his own 30.

Brady hit Edelman for 23 yards, Austin Collie for 15 and Dobson out of bounds at the Saints’ 26-yard line to stop the clock with 36 seconds left.

Two incomplete passes to Edelman in and around the goal line didn’t do it, but another hook-up to Collie and a final 17-yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins in the corner of the end zone with just five seconds left capped the stunner for the Pats.

Graham crackers
The Patriots cracked the Jimmy Graham code, completely shutting down the NFL’s leading receiver in yards. Graham was targeted six times by Brees and did not catch a single ball.

Aqib Talib, who left the game in the third quarter due to a hip injury, continued to show that he is one of the premier corners in the league when healthy. He didn’t allow Graham to take a breath early on, shadowing the tight end at every turn.

Kyle Arrington, who had an interception early in the fourth quarter, picked up right where Talib left off, slapping the ball away from Graham for an incompletion late in the fourth when Drew Brees dropped one right in the tight end’s arms, inches from the goal line.

30-spot will work
Following a horrid game against the Bengals, the Pats’ offense got back on track early, though it did so without names like Gronkowski, Amendola or Thompkins.

Brady went to Dobson early and often and it appeared in the first half that Thompkins was being phased out of the Pats’ offense. Dobson was targeted six times and had five catches for 57 yards 17 minutes into regulation. Dobson drew a pass-interference flag on corner Keenan Lewis in red zone, allowing Stevan Ridley to plunge in from a yard out in the second quarter to put New England up, 10-7.

Thompkins did wind up factoring in of course, scoring the winning touchdown. Amendola left the game after being knocked onto dream street by Saints safety Rafael Bush and Gronkowski, of course, did not play due to his ongoing injury issues.

Better to be lucky than good
The Patriots caught a break with 2:02 left in second quarter when it appeared Vince Wilfork’s replacement, Joe Vellano, jumped offsides when Brees barked out a hard count on a fourth-and-1. Much to the dismay of Sean Payton, the refs called a false start penalty on New Orleans instead and the Saints were forced to punt.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Bloomberg: Going green will grant you longer life…

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg tells Metro that cities are where fighting global warming can make a difference, and increase people’s lifespan.

International

Ban Ki Moon: "Climate change is an issue…

My message to you is: make your voice heard and your actions count. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It’s time to lead.

Local

Earth Day New York food toolkits to help…

Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn. But Earth Day…

Local

NYPD announces street closures for United Nations General…

The United Nations representatives are in town, and multiple city streets will be closed to traffic through Saturday, Sept. 26. The NYPD is urging those…

The Word

The Word: Kris and Bruce Jenner's predictably public…

They said it wouldn't last — mostly because of that separation almost a year ago. And now, more than a year later, Kris and Bruce…

Movies

Antoine Fuqua knows how to kill a man…

It's amazing what you can get done with the right tools. In designing the climactic battle in "the Equalizer," in which Denzel Washington's retired special…

Television

10 Facts you won’t learn about Frankie Grande…

Frankie Grande is the worst and/or the best. Whether or not you're a fan, you'll want to know these facts about the polarizing player from "Big Brother 16."

Movies

Guess Ben Kingsley's worst filmmaking experience

Here's a fun game: Sir Ben Kingsley has made a lot of films since "Gandhi" in 1982, but at least one of them was a…

NFL

3 things that went wrong in Jets loss…

The Jets have very little room for error with a far-from-explosive offense.

NFL

Eli Manning finally feeling good in West Coast…

The Giants have very little time before their next game, but they still took a moment to relish the team’s biggest offensive outburst since Week 1 of 2013.

College

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close…

College football top 25 poll: Oregon, Alabama close in on FSU

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

Wellbeing

Exercising leads to more drinking — and we…

  We’re rewarding ourselves with more than dessert on days we exercise, according to a new study. On days when people exercise more, typically Thursday…

Wellbeing

5 gadgets to protect you from sharks, concussions,…

The medical industry is inundated with devices looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, from monitoring your sleep patterns to warding off shark attacks. We…

Wellbeing

Narcissism and the ugly side of vanity

I have a friend who constantly talks about herself and rarely asks any questions about my life. She is constantly preening, obsessed with her body,…

Wellbeing

Lacking new ideas, Apple Watch disappoints health experts

Technology pundits were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when the Apple Watch was announced. But health care professionals and…