Heading into Sunday’s Week Two matchup with the New Orleans Saints, the New England Patriots were seeking to rebound following the surprising loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs to open the season.
The game featured a rare head to head between two of the games greatest quarterbacks of the new millennium in Tom Brady and Drew Brees, with Brees owning a 3-1 record against Brady coming into Sunday.
In the first quarter, the Patriots offense came out firing on all cylinders as for the first time in Brady’s career, he threw for three touchdown passes in the first period, the first of which to new running back Rex Burkhead.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was lost for the season after Week 8 a year ago with a back injury, returned to his rightful place on the football field after hauling in his first touchdown pass off the season, with a thunderous spike to cap it off. It was Gronkowski’s 69th career receiving touchdown.
With 21 seconds to go in the quarter, Brady connected to Chris Hogan to expand the lead.
The quarter closed with an eye popping stat line for the 40 year old quarterback and not a cliff in sight.
After one quarter of play the Patriots led 20-3.
In the second, Brees got the Saints their first touchdown of the game with a quick drive downfield to cut the lead to 10 at 20-10 and then looked on the verge of scoring again before cornerback Malcolm Butler made a key pass breakup to force a field goal.
The Patriots needing a response with the score down to 7 at 20-13, Brady took advantage of the Saints struggling defense and got into position for Mike Gillislee inside the red zone for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
The Patriots would tack on a field goal just before halftime after executing the perfect hurry up field goal unit to get the kick off before the clock expired.
The Patriots had 16 seconds and no timeouts remaining to get the job done.
Former Patriots wide receiver Dont’e Stallworth shared some insight into just how the team prepares for these types of situations.
At the half the Patriots led 30-13.
In the second half, the scoring frenzy died down significantly as the Patriots offense could only muster two additional field goals in the third and fourth quarter as multiple pieces to the attack got banged up with injuries, most notably this scare with tight end Rob Gronkowski.
What first appeared to be his back, was later clarified as a groin injury, Gronkowski didn’t return as a precaution.
Rex Burkhead, Phillip Dorsett, Eric Rowe and Chris Hogan would also endure minor injuries in the second half.
Of course Twitter acted accordingly to the increasing injury news.
Despite players dropping like flies, the Patriots defense continued to clamp down on the Saints offense, allowing just one “garbage time” touchdown with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots would overcome the injuries and win in convincing fashion by a 36-20 score as they earned their first win of the 2017 season.