By: Ian Logue/
December 01, 2009

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It's going to be a long plane ride home.

Head coach Bill Belichick will likely spend a lot of time looking at this game and wondering what the heck happened after watching his team get blown out 38-17 against an unstoppable New Orleans Saints offense.

On paper - it didn't look as uneven as the score showed. The Patriots held the edge in time of possession (33:16 to 26:44). They didn't commit a penalty (the Saints committed 4). They had 23 first downs to the Saints 18, and like the Saints the Patriots were 2-of-4 inside the red zone.

Unfortunately the problem was that Drew Brees had a perfect evening and there wasn't a darn thing the Patriots defense could do to stop him. The Saints quarterback missed just five passes throughout the whole game, finishing 18-of-23 for 371 yards and five touchdowns. It was just ridiculous. He made the perfect read each time and put the ball in places only his receivers could come up with the football - not much else you can say about it. He was flat out unstoppable.

Meanwhile it wasn't exactly a great night for Brady, who was erratic and made two very uncharacteristic throws that left most fans scratching their heads wondering what the heck he was thinking. He finished 21-of-36 for 237 yards with no touchdowns, and two interceptions.

His first interception came late in the first quarter on their second offensive possession, which resulted in a Saints touchdown. It came on a play where he was simply late in getting the ball out after being hurried due to the Saints pass rush, but clearly was a throw he shouldn't have attempted. He seemed frustrated for most of the nihgt, with New Orleans moving their players around defensively and clearly making it difficult for him to call out the protections and make the necessary adjustments. For much of the night they rushed just three and kept dropping eight in multiple coverages, keeping him guessing for much of the night.

Belichick said after the game that Saints head coach Sean Payton did a good job of having his team prepared.

"Sean [Payton] did a great job with their team, said Belichick after the game. "[He] did a lot better job than I did."

They were obviously the better team Sunday night, and Brady later echoed those sentiments.

"There's a reason why they're 11-0," said Brady. "We obviously didn't play to their level"

"We're just not playing as consistent as we'd like against these good teams, and that's what you need to do."

The second quarter was the killer for the Patriots, as they were outscored 21-3 and made two major mental errors that will likely be discussed in the film room over the next few days.

The first touchdown came on a blown read on a screen by Derrick Burgess who failed to keep contain and let Pierre Thomas get away en-route to an 18-yard touchdown. The second came on a blown coverage where the Patriots sent a corner blitz and no one picked up Devery Henderson who streaked down the center of the field and wasn't picked up. Brees saw it immediately and Henderson was off and running, scoring easily. The final touchdown came after Robert Meachem simply beat Jonathan Wilhite and Brees dropped the throw in perfectly to put the Saints up 24-10.

New England had their chance before the half, marching down the field from their own 20-yard line before their drive stalled at the Saints 32. Stephen Gostkowski, who had been hitting from 50+ before the start of the game missed wide left, causing any momentum the Patriots had to sail away with it.

The Patriots had the ball to start the second half, and managed to avoid what could have been a complete disaster. Laurence Maroney fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, yet somehow managed to get it back and later ended up in the endzone to get them back within seven at 24-17 early in the third quarter.

Unfortunately Brees quickly doused that idea by hitting Marques Colston for 68 yards on the first offensive play from scrimmage on their next possession. Two plays later they were back in the endzone and were up 31-17.

Undaunted the Patriots put another drive together, marching down to the Saints 10 yard line before going for it on 4th-and-4 when it appeared that Belichick wasn't happy with settling for a field goal and instead decided to go for the touchdown. An incompletion to Moss ended the drive, and at the time it appeared to also end any hope of they had of a comeback.

However, New England's defense stopped the Saints on their next possession, giving them another shot to close the gap. Unfortunately the Patriots offense went three and out, which ended up being deadly as the Saints put together a 9-play 75 yard drive which ended in another Saints touchdown and now had them fully in control, up 38-17.

On the ensuing possession their hopes finally came to an end. On their second offensive play Brady threw his second pick of the night, which wasn't any where near one of his receivers. It would be his final pass of the game, as Belichick took him out in favor of Brian Hoyer - signaling the waving of a white flag in what probably could have been a much uglier outcome had the game gone on for much longer.

Now the Patriots will come home and look to put it behind them, with another road game Sunday against the Dolphins that was "flexed out" of primetime. While New England did a good job against Miami the last time they faced off, the fact this is a road game is cause for concern. They're 0-4 on the road this season with losses to the New York Jets, Denver, Indianapolis, and now New Orleans. Needless to say a road win against a division opponent would certainly be a start in getting things back on track with this football team.

Otherwise for now, it's back to the drawing board when they get back to Gillette Stadium. Heading into Monday night's game it was considered by many to be a "statement game" to put the Patriots back among the NFL's elite. Instead it proved that they're not quite there just yet, and still have their work cut out for them.

"[There's] only one way out of it," said Brady after the game. "You have to get back to work and try and do it better next time."

There's only one way these two teams could meet again. Unfortunately after Monday night's experience this team has a long way to go before that even appears to even be a possibility worth discussing.