The New England Patriots suffered their worst loss of the young season on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints came to Gillette Stadium and won 28-13. The Saints controlled the game and the Patriots made numerous mistakes that prevented them from having any chance to win.
The Patriots forced the Saints to punt on their first possession, but followed that with a quick three and out. This would be a theme for New England; they did not get a first down until their fourth drive. That drive ended with a blocked punt.
The Patriots could not get anything going on offense in the first half. After the blocked punt, their next drive ended with an interception that was returned to the New England 9-yard line. The Saints scored a touchdown three plays later to take a 14-0 lead. On New England’s final drive of the first half, they faced a 4th and 1 at the New Orleans 22-yard line. Bill Belichick elected to go for it, but a false start by Hunter Henry pushed the Patriots back five yards and forced them to kick a field goal.
After halftime, the Patriots came out and ran a play action pass designed to go to Jonnu Smith. The pass bounced off Smith’s hands and was returned for a pick-six. On the next drive, Smith dropped another pass and the Patriots punted again. After mustering a field goal to make the score 21-6 on their next drive, Jake Bailey kicked the ball out of bounds to give the Saints the ball at the 40.
The Patriots lone touchdown of the day came on a nice throw by Mac Jones and great, athletic catch and toe tap by Kendrick Bourne. Bourne was one of the few bright spots of the day, hauling in six catches for 96 yards and the score. Jones threw the ball while under heavy pressure and that was a common theme during the game. He was constantly under pressure, including two New Orleans sacks. Jones threw three interceptions, though one bounced off Smith’s hands and another he was hit as he threw.
After the Patriots touchdown, it appeared as though they had life and all they needed was one defensive stop to get the ball back and try to tie the game. Instead, New Orleans marched down the field and used 6:45 of clock before scoring the icing touchdown. The most frustrating part was that the Patriots allowed six yards per carry on the final drive, whereas before that they had allowed only 3.2 yards per carry throughout the game. It was the second time in three weeks that the defense failed to get a late, key stop to give the Patriots a chance to tie or win. Adding insult to injury, the Patriots had only 10 men on the field for the final Saints TD.
The Saints are a good team and their roster overall is better than the Patriots as constructed. However, the Patriots could have had a chance to win if they did not make consistent mistakes in all three phases of the game. It was a sloppy performance and with the Super Bowl champs coming to town this Sunday, they don’t have much time to get back on track.