Monday, November 30, 2009
Postgame first impressions
By Mike Reiss
Taking a page from the SEC blog on ESPN.com, an instant analysis of the Patriots' 38-17 loss to the Saints:
How the game was won: Big plays by the Drew Brees-led Saints offense, highlighted by Devery Henderson’s 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the second quarter that gave New Orleans a 17-7 lead. It was a blown coverage by the Patriots. A Marques Colston 68-yard catch early in the third quarter answered the Patriots’ touchdown coming out of halftime, and Robert Meachem caught a 38-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Turning point: Leading 7-3, the Patriots had the ball at the Saints 46 with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter after a 41-yard Wes Welker punt return. They had put together an impressive 14-play touchdown drive on their first possession, relying on multiple tight end sets and balance, but on the first play of their second drive they went with an empty set and Tom Brady was intercepted by Mike McKenzie. The complexion of the game completely changed.
Stat of the game: Brees was 10 of 10 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns on first down.
Unsung hero: Saints cornerback McKenzie. Thrust into action as New Orleans was without starters Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter -- and lost Randall Gay in the second half with a leg injury -- McKenzie came up big with tight coverage throughout and one interception.
What it means: The Patriots keep a two-game lead in the AFC East, but hurt themselves in the race for a possible No. 2 seed in the conference. They visit Miami on Sunday still in search of their first true road win of the season.