The end of November was a bitter one. The 2007 Patriots defeated all of their opponents except for one, with an average score of 36.8 points per game. In 2009, the Saints are averaging 37 points and have risen to 11-0, with the Patriots being the latest to fall in their journey to perfection.
Memories of the Superdome lingered in the minds of some Patriots players and the fans, how could it not? This was the site of New England's first of three Super Bowl wins in just four years. This time though, it wasn't 2002 and the Patriots aren't playing for a championship, rather, just a win on another installment of Monday Night Football
Some called it the best match up of the season, others, thought it was going to be a lesson in defeat for the Saints. Restaurants and bars were packed everywhere in New England. A few close friends who made the trip down south for the game began tailgating...seven hours before kickoff.
The crowd noise in the Superdome is unmatched, adding even more difficulty to a visiting offense. In the first quarter, New Orleans struck first with a field goal and almost immediately, the Patriots came back with a Laurence Maroney four yard touchdown, the first of two for the 2006, 21st overall draft pick. Running back Sammy Morris made his debut (again) after a knee injury, Morris contributed with a vital conversion that led to the first Patriots touchdown.
The Patriots offense looked balanced, Tom Brady played with variety by throwing to three different receivers and running the ball more than expected, hoping to hone in on the exposed Saints' 18th ranked pass defense and 20th ranked rush defense. Not to mention, by maintaining possession of the ball for 11:26 of the first quarter, it didn't leave time for Drew Brees to do much, for now.
After the first quarter, the battle for the Patriots had just began. The New Orleans offense scored 21 points in the second quarter with the Patriots only being able to put up a field goal. From this point on, the Patriots struggled and was left to play catch-up for the rest of the game. The New England defense was looking shaky, allowing receivers to make catches over and over again.
Both Saints' running backs reached 50 yards or more with over 10 carries each. Neither of these running backs was Reggie Bush, who was out with a knee injury.
Trusted receivers Patriots' Randy Moss and Wes Welker were powerless against the double coverage. Moss expressed his thoughts, "They doubled me a lot. They doubled Wes [Welker] a lot. It's nothing that we haven't seen before. They just put it to us, it's simple as that." Stopping two of the most explosive receivers in the league is not an easy job, Saints' free safety Darren Sharper made it seem otherwise. Sharper completed the game with four tackles, two assists and one interception.
Overall, the inability to answer points scored by New Orleans forced the Patriots to swallow defeat with five minutes left and a point deficit of 21. In a chance for some experience, Patriots gave rookie quarterback Brian Hoyer a chance to play.
What did Bill Belichick have to say after all this? "...To be competitive against a team like this, we've got to do a better job. We've got to coach better, play better. We've got to be better at everything - players, assistant coaches, we've all got to do a better job than this."
It's ok right? Good teams don't lose two in a row and the Patriots have are over the Bayou bust.
Rookie Report Card - Patriots vs Saints
B Cornerback Darius Butler
Consistency is what will secure a job in the National Football League, Butler is consistently making key tackles in each game played. Butler had two total tackles and was one of the few healthy rookies still able to play Monday evening.
C+ Quarterback Brian Hoyer
If you are put into a game with five minutes left and the team is losing by 21 points, as a backup, you are not expected to win the game. It's a good time for experience and to take advantage of a field to do you've been taught in practice. Brian Hoyer completed two of four passes for 19 yards and was sacked once. An average performance for the rookie.
Since the injury of Chad Pennington and the deflated Wildcat offense, beating the Dolphins is not longer an extensive feat. In the week nine match up, the Patriots took the win with a final score of 27-17. Dolphins' current starting quarterback, Michigan alum, Chad Henne has shown promise as the Pennington replacement bringing Miami to a 5-6 record and tying for 2nd place with the New York Jets in the AFC East division.
The Patriots are in dire need of a win on the road and playing in Miami might be the opportunity.
New England Patriots: 24
Miami Dolphins: 14
Kisha Tapangan covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com. To read more of her material, visit her blog at www.nrwithkisha.com . To contact Kisha, you can email her here: email@example.com