Patriots defeat Saints, 30-27
The New England Patriots earned as clutch of a victory as they come on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Tom Brady was “Tom Terrific” on the final drive of the game. Down by four with under two-minutes remaining in regulation, Brady orchestrated a picture perfect scoring drive; reminiscent to the many he’s conducted over the years.
The game was seemingly lost for New England. They failed to find pay dirt on two previous possessions. Their defense came up big and allowed the offense another shot at redemption.
Kenbrell Thompkins hauled in the game-winning touchdown with just five seconds left on the clock. Brady gunned a flawless bullet just over the head of the defending player, while giving Thompkins enough room to get his feet down in the back corner of the end zone.
It was vintage Brady and surely a remarkable throw. In order to complete the upset of the undefeated Saints it took a team effort from start to finish. We know Brady and Tompkins had themselves a day to remember. So how did the rest of the team stack up?
Here is my complete week 6 report card:
Brady was by no means perfect in this game. He misfired on some of his passes and threw an ill-advised interception late in the fourth quarter. Fortunately the New England defense stood stout it the game’s most key of moments and Brady made every play with his back against the wall at then end. He even had an eleven-yard rush for a first down in the first quarter.
His poise, decision-making and pocket presence on the game’s final drive was second to none. As Scott Zolak put it, “Brady’s back.”
Final stat line: 25/43, 269 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 59.6 QBR
Running Backs: A
After missing last week’s contest against the Bengals, Ridley returned in a big way for the Patriots. He scored two touchdowns and ran the football with authority all afternoon. Ridley also caught one pass for fourteen-yards. The Patriots were successful offensively because they worked to establish the run and it helped balance out their aerial attack.
Final stat line: 20 CAR, 96 YDS, 2 TD, 4.8 AVG
Wide Receivers: B+
Dobson led all Patriot receivers in catches and yards. Brady and Dobson displayed increased chemistry with one another and especially in the first half. New England began the game running the hurry up and Dobson was on the receiving end of a few beauties. This combo is trending in the right direction, but there is still some left to be desired. He did drop a noteworthy wide-open pass.
Final stat line: 6 Rec, 69 YDS, 10 TGTS
Edelman was second on the team in catches and yards. Edelman has been serving as Brady’s safety blanket in a way. He always seems to be there for Brady when nothing else is. Though Edelman did have a pair drops late in the fourth quarter.
Final stat line: 5 Rec, 57 YDS, 11 TGTS
Like Dobson, Thompkins is slowly developing into a big play receiver. He led all Patriot pass catchers with an average of fifteen-yards a catch. Thompkins is certainly gaining the trust of Brady, considering he was on the receiving end of a touchdown in the game’s final seconds. We all know Brady doesn’t just chuck it up to anybody when it’s do or die. He did have a few drops as well.
Final stat line: 3 Rec, 45 YDS, 1 TD, 6 TGTS
Once upon a time, Collie was one of Peyton Manning’s go to guys. He was Brady’s go to man on Sunday. Collie caught two big passes on the game’s final drive and one of which was for a fourth down conversion. Look for Collie to be a factor moving forward.
Final stat line: 2 Rec, 24 YDS, 2 TGTS
Amendola had himself a game to forget. His struggle to establish any sort of connection with Brady continued. He was also hit hard on an end around carry and knocked out of the game. It looked as if Amendola suffered a concussion and more missed time seems likely.
Final stat line: 2 Rec, 0 YDS, 4 TGTS
Tight End: A
For the first time all season, aside from the Matt Mulligan touchdown against Atlanta, we saw the Patriots get one of their tight ends involved offensively. Brady connected with the Hooman for several big gainers through the air. He didn’t post eye-popping statistics but he did have a solid showing.
Final stat line: 4 Rec, 57 YDS, 4 TGTS
Offensive Line: B
In regards to run blocking, well, the big boys up front opened up some sizeable lanes for Ridley. As a team the Patriots eclipsed one hundred yards rushing and that is always a positive. They did allow five sacks for a net loss of thirty-four yards on Brady and that is way to many. The franchise corner stone should not be susceptible to such a beating. Brady was also hit, knocked down and hurried on many other occasions. Dan Connolly did exit with an injury and Marcus Cannon was exposed on a few plays.
Defensive Line: B
Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Jones and Joe Vellano may have only recorded one sack, but they hurried Drew Brees all game, forcing him to throw several rushed attempts. Vellano racked up eight tackles from his nose tackle position and Chandler Jones added another seven. They were gashed in the run game though, as the Saints ran for over one hundred and thirty yards.
Despite suffering a shoulder injury, Jerrod Mayo was the best Patriot linebacker. He recorded six tackles and was awarded the always-enjoyable task of covering Darren Sproles out of the backfield. He did well considering the speed mismatch. Rookie Jason Collins also recovered a Pierre Thomas Fumble. I think the linebacker corps could have done a better job defending the run.
First and foremost Aqib Talib deserves the game ball. He shutdown Jimmy Graham all afternoon. Graham had entered the day with four straight games with at least one hundred yards receiving. He had zero receptions against the Patriots. Talib was all over him, jamming him at the line and popping him whenever he could. Marques Colston was limited to one catch. Brees completed less than fifty percent of his passes. Much credit should be paid to the coverage skill of Kyle Arrington, who had a big fourth quarter pick, Alfonzo Dennard, Devin McCourty and Steven Gregory.
Dennard, Arrington and Talib also combined for four pass defenses.
Special Teams: A
Gostkowski nailed all three field goals he attempted. The biggest of all was a fifty-four yarder that gave New England a 23-17 lead. He also added kicks from thirty-five and twenty-three yards.
Final stat line: 3/3 FGS, 3/3 XPT
Allen punted the ball with power all game long. He let four boomers fly and had one sail fifty-six yards.
Final stat line: 4 Punts, 210 YDS, 52.4 AVG