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Monday, October 14, 2013

Patriots Stun Saints, 30-27 on Brady's Last-Second TD to Thompkins

For many reasons, tonight was a throwback to better days (yes I know we're very spoiled) for the Patriots as they beat the Saints 30-27 at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady (25 of 43 for 269 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins (3 catches, 45 yards) with five seconds left as New England (5-1 overall, 3-0 home) completely stole a win from New Orleans (5-1 overall, 2-1 away) 30-27.

With no Rob Gronkowski plus injuries to Danny Amendola, Jerod Mayo, Aqib Talib and Dan Connolly, this looked like a game the Pats would lose because they simply ran out of healthy bodies and decent players. Oh and the Saints played well on the road for about 58+ minutes and they should have won but they couldn't close it out.

New Orleans went ahead 24-23 on Drew Brees' (17 of 36 for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) 34-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenny Stills with 3:29 left in regulation. After New England turned it over on downs, the Saints added a 39-yard field goal for 27-23 lead. Keenan Lewis intercepted Brady on New England's next play so by then, it had to be over. Except it wasn't. The Patriots forced the Saints to punt after a 3-and-out and Brady had one last chance starting at his own 30 with 1:13 left.

It only took seven plays to get the clutch score; the big plays were a 23-yard catch by Julian Edelman (5 catches, 57 yards) plus a 15-yard catch and 9-yard catch by Austin Collie (his first two receptions as a Patriot). Brady's touchdown to Thompkins was vintage stuff, the likes of which we haven't really seen for years. The Patriots picked up a clutch win against a formidable opponent facing long odds and many key injuries. Sound familiar?

New England actually built a 17-7 halftime lead thanks to two touchdown runs by Stevan Ridley (20 carries, 96 yards rushing; 14-yard catch) and the first of three Stephen Gostkowski field goals (35, 54, 23). New Orleans predictably tied it up in the third with a 28-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley and 3-yard touchdown run by Khiry Robinson. Gostkowski's last two kicks put the Pats up 23-17 midway through the fourth.

Eight Patriots caught passes today and nine were targeted. It will take that type of approach if they are going to survive another long absence from Amendola who appeared to get knocked out on a vicious hit in the second half. Aaron Dobson (6 catches, 63 yards) had a good performance and even Michael Hoomanawanui (4 catches, 57 yards) played like an NFL tight end for one game.

Kyle Arrington also had a gift interception after Brees tried to call timeout, didn't get it then was forced to chuck it up for grabs. Before he left with a hip flexor, Talib held Jimmy Graham (the NFL's best tight end, sorry Gronk) without a catch. His teammates picked up the slack too as Graham (who also was hobbled late in the contrest) had zero catches.

After playing marquee games against quality teams, it'll be tough to re-adjust to the slop of the AFC East. New England goes to the Jets (3-3 overall) on Sunday (1, CBS). New York lost 16-9 at home this afternoon to the previously winless Steelers (1-4).

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