As Bill Belichick likes to say, there are 60 minutes in every football game. On Sunday, the Patriots needed all but five seconds of those 60 minutes to beat the New Orleans Saints. For the first time in a long time, we saw the Patriots mount a heart-stopping comeback in the final minutes of a game. Kenbrell Thompkins came up with a catch where it counted as the Pats handed the Saints their first loss of the season. Injuries may have piled up as the game wore on but the heart this team showed is something to be proud of.
Rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins got a big confidence boost after a last minute win against the Saints on Sunday.
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Dan Connolly, Aqib Talib and Danny Amendola all left the game with injuries. Tom Brady was sacked five times and Aaron Dobson dropped a sure touchdown pass. These are all things we have become accustomed to, as this season has gone on. Rookies being rookies and injuries to guys who are impact players. The difference this time around was the fire in Brady’s eyes when he was given the ball with just over a minute remaining in the game. He came out throwing passes like we haven’t seen lately. His accuracy was on point as he started off the drive with a 23 yard pass to Julian Edelman. That put in motion a drive where, wouldn’t you know it, Austin Collie came up huge. With Amendola out after a nasty hit to the head, Collie fell right into place converting a fourth and four to keep the Patriots’ hope alive. The next pass of the game was the touchdown to Thompkins that lifted the Patriots over the Saints 30-27.
While this win was certainly exciting, the troubles of the offense are still a concern. During the first half this team looked unstoppable. Michael Hoomanawanui had a great game catching the ball all four times he was targeted. Unfortunately, the use of the tight end dropped off in the second. The offense that looked like that of years past in the first, looked completely different in the second. To start this game the Patriots were getting into stride and utilizing the no huddle. The speed of the offense seemed to be too much for the Saints defense to handle. Then, in the second half, it seemed as though the tables had turned. The Saints put up a quick ten points and the Patriots offense was sitting quiet.
Part of the problem was the play calling which has been a concern all year. Josh McDaniels hasn’t been putting a lot of variation into the Patriots’ drives. If a drive starts with a run, chances are it will continue as such. What is missing is the short, dink and dive passes down the middle of the field. These are the drives that eat up clock and end with a touchdown. The Patriots have turned into a sideline offense and that will start to hurt them against better defenses. The good news is Dobson and Thompkins are coming along and that is evident by Brady’s ability to utilize the no huddle. The bad news is, they still have butter fingers from time to time. They can make those outstanding catches but drop a four yard pass. Patience is going to be the name of the game when it comes to these receivers. On the positive side Collie showed he can step in and be a valuable and reliable member of this offense. We’ll just have to see how much impact he’ll have as Amendola continues to deal with his injuries.
The Saints were a good test for the Patriots. Drew Brees is an outstanding quarterback and once again Talib and the defense showed they can effectively neutralize a team’s number one weapon. As the defense continues to hold this team together, it was nice to finally see some fire from the offense. The final seconds of this game were a big confidence boost for this team and hopefully that will carry over for the next few weeks.