First of all, can you breathe yet?
In this exciting tilt, the Pats had a couple chances to win it at the end of the game, which they painfully blew. But then Tom Brady did what the great ones do, as he led the Patriots on an incredible comeback en route to a last second win.
Despite coming away with the win, the Patriots played a pretty awful second half, as well as suffering four key injuries, which I will address in this piece.
And so, without further ado, here are three takeaways from the Pats incredible last second victory over the former undefeated New Orleans Saints.
1. Tom Brady Is Still Tom Brady
Throughout the entire second half, the Patriot offense, led by Brady, looked like something that my 12 year old brother might direct. Receivers couldn’t get open, the offensive line got absolutely dominated, and even Brady missed quite a few throws. Until that eventful last drive, the Pats offense had produced three points (technically six, but the second field goal was set up by the defense). Patriot fans were getting restless, and it seemed to have culminated in a horrid Tom Brady interception with just over two minutes left in the game.
But then the Tom Brady that we all know and love showed up.
Faced with the prospect of leading the Patriots on a 70 yard drive with a mere 1:13 left in the game, Brady coolly stared this challenge in the eye, and showed everybody why he is still the best quarterback in the world. Eight plays later, the Pats found themselves with the lead, and a decent 5-1 record. Brady showcased his excellent accuracy, decision making, and flat out clutch ability on this last drive, which ended with a perfectly placed 17 yard touchdown to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins. Brady also found newly signed Austin Collie twice, including a crucial fourth down conversion which kept the drive alive.
When the chips are down, and you need a quarterback to take you down the field in the waning moments of the game, there is nobody I would rather have leading my team than Tom Brady.
2. Defense Stands Up To Test…For The Most Part
Coming into this game, the Patriots improved defensive unit had played well in every game of this young 2013 season. However, the toughest offense they faced had been the disappointing Atlanta Falcons back in week four. We knew that this Saints unit would be a much bigger test, and it would be a great test for a Patriots defense that has made significant strides over the offseason.
Although the Pats did give up 361 yards and 27 points to the Saints, I thought that they put forth an overall solid defensive effort. They endured injuries to Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo (Mayo’s was late), and still came out on top. The middle of the defense struggled once again, as they are still attempting to adjust to life without Vince Wilfork. Of course, it didn’t help that Tommy Kelly wasn’t active as he is still dealing with a knee injury that he suffered last week in Cincinnati. Giving up 131 yards on a 5.0 average is not ideal, and it is a big reason why it looked like the Saints were in line to win this game.
The Saints final touchdown drive ,which ended in a 34 yard scoring strike to rookie Kenny Stills was a bit of a letdown for the Pats D, but up until that point, they made Brees and company really work for what they got. The Patriots pass rush was absent all day long, but a terrific performance from their secondary made up for it. Drew Brees completed less than 50% of his passes for a total of 236 yards, along with one Kyle Arrington interception. The vaunted Jimmy Graham was held without a catch, as the genius of Bill Belichick (and Aqib Talib) were on display in the shutdown of the big tight end.
3. Offense Still Has It’s Problems
A lot of people will just focus on the phenomenal game winning drive for the Patriots, but as I mentioned before, the entire second half, other than the final 1:13 was an absolute disaster. The offensive line, which had been stellar in the first four weeks, has allowed Brady to be sacked nine times in the last two contests. However, even if Brady had been given time to throw the ball, receivers were dropping passes left and right, which obviously frustrated number 12. Hitting the 30 point mark is a good sign for New England, but it was an ugly process, and it will be something that must be fixed as we move forward in this 2013 season.
4. Four Big Injuries
The Pats lost four key players to injury throughout this game, and depending on how it all works out, could make this victory a little less sweet. It has already been reported by Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1, that Aqib Talib’s hip injury is not believed to be severe. Talib has played at an extremely high level thus far, which makes this news very good for Pats fans. Tom E. Curran of CSNNE also tweeted that he saw Jerod Mayo left the stadium with his right arm in a sling. I am no doctor, but I don’t think that bodes well at all for Mayo and the Pats. As for Danny Amendola and Dan Connolly, we don’t know the severeness of their head injuries, although judging by the hit Amendola took, I think he may be out for a couple of weeks.
It is kind of surreal to see the amount of injuries that the Patriots take, and then continue to win. Let us hope that all four injuries that occurred in tonight’s game aren’t severe, because I am not sure how much more New England can take.