By Patriots Insider Staff
A big lead is never enough when your defense is unable to slow down the run or get the other team off the field on third downs. The Patriots leading 24-16 at the half, relinquished their momentum as they began to substitute reserves in for their starting unit while the Saints held most of their first string unit together through the third period.
Tom Brady had his first pass of the preseason intercepted after throwing well behind TE Ben Watson on an out pattern. That led to the Saints first score, a John Carney FG making it 3 - 0 Saints. Brady then got back into a rhythm of sorts handing off once to RB Kevin Faulk, then firing a 45-yard strike to speedy WR Tim Dwight. Brady followed up with a short pass to Faulk and then handed the ball off to FB Patrick Pass for the rushing TD that put the Patriots up 7-3.
Brady then directed another drive down the field to set up an Adam Vinatieri chip shot from within the 20 to make the score 10-3. It was not Brady's ability to direct the team down the field, which was memorable, it was the team's inability to punch the ball into the endzone with a 1st and goal on the Saints 5 yard line.
Brady concluded the evening with 6 passes for 105 yards with 1 (one) INT and a QB rating of 49.4.
The Saints kept running the ball and passing downfield against the Patriots defense seemingly at will. They scored after a holding call on Rodney Harrison was called on a 3rd and goal from the NE 5. Even after a rushing TD by FB Kyle Eckel (his second of the season) and nice TD toss by fan favorite Doug Flutie who connected with Jason Anderson for a 29-yard strike, the Saints never went away. The TD toss was Flutie's first and Anderson's second score of the preseason
Saints QB Aaron Brooks played the entire third quarter for New Orleans against the Patriots second and third units on defense and it showed. Brooks was able close in on the Patriots lead after directing a TD scoring drive of 9 plays for 64 yards to bring the score to within 5 points, 22-27 with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Patriots QB Matt Cassel was harassed during his time under center for New England. Gone was the great protection and quick release seen in the Cincinnati game. Cassel took multiple hits, misfiring numerous times as he failed to lead the team to a single score.
Cassel, to his credit, never had much time to direct the Patriots offense against the Saints as he did against the Bengals. Saints defenders were either blitzing the young QB, or collapsing the pocket forcing him to rush his throws.
The offensive linemen protecting Cassel are not going to enjoy watching game film during the team's next practice as a number of blown assignments and missed blocks were the cause of much of Cassel's woes.
The scoring concluded with the Saints coming from behind to score twice in a period of 19 seconds; one on a TD after a 9 play 51-yard drive by Todd Bouman and the other a few seconds later on a fumble recovery for a TD after Cassel was sacked again.
The bright spots for New England were: RB Patrick Pass who showed good speed and power racking up 88 yards on 11 carries with 1 TD; QB Doug Flutie who displayed pocket awareness and accuracy on his TD pass to Anderson; Special teams KR Ellis Hobbs who ripped off returns of 31 and 52 yards; WR Tim Dwight who hauled in Brady's best pass of 45 yards, and added 2 more for 24, while chalking up a 19-yard punt return.
Final Result: New Orleans Saints 37 - New England Patriots 27
Next Up: The Patriots (1-1) travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers, while the Saints (1-1) will play host to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Following Patriots Did Not Play: QB Rohan Davey, WR David Terrell, WR P.K. Sam, WR Cedric James, CB Randall Gay, CB Duane Starks, RB Chad Morton, RB Corey Dillon, S Guss Scott, RB Cedric Cobbs, LB Andrew Torrey, LB Mike Vrabel, T Jeff Roehl, T Brandon Gorin, WR Bethel Johnson, WR Deion Branch, TE Jed Weaver, DL Santonio Thomas, DL Ty Warren
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