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
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…