There's no doubt that the undefeated Saints wanted to make a statement to the rest of the NFL when they played the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.
Consider the statement made.
Actually, in this case, not a lot had to be said after the Saints' 38-17 blowout of the three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots. They said it all out on the field with five touchdown passes by Drew Brees and a defense that made Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker look rather ordinary.
Leading up to what many believed was the biggest regular-season game in the 43-year history of the franchise, the Saints (11-0) respectfully talked about how they wanted to emulate the Patriots.
On Monday night, for one night anyway, they certainly did that as Brees threw a touchdown pass to five different receivers and finished the game with a season-high 371 passing yards and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
"Obviously, it's a big win for us to get our 11th win," Saints coach Sean Payton said as fans celebrated in a noisy Superdome. "That's a really good team we played. We've got a lot of respect for them."
As usual, it all started with Brees. In recording a perfect passer rating for the first time in his nine-year NFL career, he did his best Brady imitation in slicing up the Patriots' secondary with amazing precision.
Brees fired three of his scoring passes in the second quarter, becoming the first quarterback to do that against a Bill Belichick-coached team in 254 regular-season games. The five total TD passes was also a first against Belichick.
"I thought he (Brees) was outstanding tonight. I thought he was special," said Payton. "Let's just say he's playing well. It was a great job by him ... he was magnificent."
--According to ESPN, Saints quarterback Drew Brees became only the second player in NFL history to throw for 350-plus yards, five or more TDs, no interceptions and complete at least 75 percent of his passes in a single game in Monday night's 38-17 rout of the New England Patriots.
The Patriots' Tom Brady, who was on the other side of the field Monday night, did it twice in 2007 and once earlier this season.
--Because of a rash of injuries to the secondary, the two veteran cornerbacks signed recently by the Saints -- Chris McAlister and Mike McKenzie -- saw plenty of action against the Patriots.
Playing without starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter for the second straight week, the Saints actually started McKenzie, who was signed on Nov. 23, when they opened the game in a dime package.
When left cornerback Randall Gay left after apparently re-injuring his right hamstring in the first quarter, McAlister stepped in at that spot and played extensively throughout the rest of the contest.
--Starting along with Gay and McKenzie, who intercepted Brady in the first quarter, were rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and safeties Darren Sharper, Roman Harper and Pierson Prioleau.
Like McKenzie, Prioleau made his first start this season.
--With their third consecutive victory on Monday Night Football, the Saints ended the Patriots' six-game winning streak in front of the ESPN cameras.
The Saints are now 11-17 all time on Monday Night Football and 23-31 overall in prime-time games.
--The Saints extended their winning streak against AFC teams to seven games in completing a season sweep of the AFC East with a victory over the Patriots.
They are now 9-7 against the AFC since Sean Payton's arrival in 2006.
At the same time, the Patriots saw their 17-game winning streak against the NFC come to an end. The last time the Patriots had lost to an NFC team was to Carolina, 27-17, in Week 2 of the 2005 season.
--Two former Patriots players -- cornerback Randall Gay and tight end David Thomas -- served as game captains for the Saints on Monday night.
Gay signed with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2008 and Thomas was traded to the Saints on Sept. 5 in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in 2011.
--LCB Randall Gay went into Monday night's game against the New England Patriots with a strained right hamstring and did not return after leaving in the first quarter with what the team said was a leg injury.
--RB Reggie Bush didn't play Monday night because of a bruised right knee that has forced him to miss two games in a row. He could return, however, for Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins.
--LCB Jabari Greer missed his third consecutive game with a left groin injury after being limited in practice last week, and his return is uncertain.
--RCB Tracy Porter, who has a sprained MCL in his left knee, was inactive for the second straight game Monday night and could miss another game or two although the team hasn't given a timetable for his return.
--WR Lance Moore did not play for the fourth straight game as he continues to rehab a sprained left ankle.
--DT Sedrick Ellis was in the starting lineup against the Patriots after missing the previous four games with a sprained right knee.
--LCB Mike McKenzie, who was signed just last Monday, started when the Saints opened the game in their dime package.
--LT Jermon Bushrod was back in the starting lineup against the Patriots after Zach Strief opened the previous game at Tampa Bay.