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(Monday, November 30th)
Final Score: New Orleans 38, New England 17
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for five touchdowns, and the Saints continued their unbeaten march by dominating the New England Patriots, 38-17, at the Superdome.
Monday's matchup featured two of the league's most prolific offenses over the past three seasons, but the Saints showed why they are in an elite class this year. Brees connected on 18-of-23 throws for 371 yards, as the Saints thrived with big offensive plays and also picked off Tom Brady twice.
"Let's just say he's playing real well," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Brees. "I thought his locations, confidence and what we were seeing was something else. It was a great job by him, magnificent."
New Orleans (11-0) rolled against the Patriots despite being without running back Reggie Bush, who missed his second straight game due to a bruised right knee.
The Saints continued their best start in franchise history and remained one of two unbeaten teams, with Indianapolis also 11-0. The Colts clinched the AFC South title Sunday, and the Saints are on the verge of securing the NFC South championship going into Sunday's game at Washington. This is the first time in league history that there are two 11-0 teams in the same season.
Marques Colston had four catches for 121 yards and a TD, while Devery Henderson caught three balls for 116 yards and a score.
Brady, who had thrown for at least 300 yards in his previous five contests, connected on 21-of-36 passes for 237 yards and no TDs for the Patriots (7-4), whose lead in the AFC East is at two games over the Dolphins and Jets. New England plays at Miami on Sunday.
"There's obviously a big gap between us," said Brady. "It wasn't as competitive as we all were expecting, but that's what happens when you don't play very well against a pretty good team on the road."
Down by 21 points, Brady was lifted late in the fourth quarter and replaced by rookie Brian Hoyer. The loss dropped the Pats to 1-4 on the road this season.
"When you make mistakes they capitalize on them. You can't make many against them and you can't make big ones. We made some big ones," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "They hit us on it."
The Patriots had their 17-game regular season winning streak against NFC opponents broken. That was the longest winning streak against the opposite conference since the 1970 merger.
Brady became New England's all-time leading passer, as he eclipsed the mark of 29,657 yards set by Drew Bledsoe. Brady has 29,732.
Just two years ago the Patriots became the first NFL team to compile a 16-0 regular season mark, which made Monday's game more enticing.
"People are going to talk about this game and maybe blow it out of proportion a little bit," said Brees. "Certainly, this game doesn't entitle us to anything. It's just another win in the win column."
The Patriots caught a break at the start of the third quarter when Laurence Maroney fumbled after making a catch. Wes Welker recovered for the Patriots and the play was upheld after a review. New England then drove 81 yards in eight plays, capped by Maroney's two-yard TD run off left tackle to get the visitors within 24-17 with 10:24 left in the period.
The big-play Saints widened their lead just 82 seconds later. Colston outraced the defense for a 68-yard catch and run, and two plays later, Brees found Darnell Dinkins in the end zone for a two-yard score.
Brady then drove the Patriots to the New Orleans 10, but, faced with a 4th- and-4, he threw incomplete to Moss on the left side as the pass was broken up by cornerback Mike McKenzie, whom the team signed on November 23 to help aid an injured secondary that was without Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer. McKenzie was playing in his first game since fracturing his right kneecap a year ago.
Brees' 20-yard TD strike to Colston midway through the fourth provided the final margin. Brady was picked off by Darren Sharper on the ensuing possession.
John Carney missed a 37-yard field goal try for the Saints, but with 5:26 left and the Patriots seemingly out of reach, Belichick yanked Brady and put in Hoyer.
"It hurts, they put it to us tonight," said Moss. "I didn't think we had any rhythm. I think we had little spurts where we tried to gain that rhythm, but we just couldn't put things together."
Carney's 30-yard field goal try struck the left upright and bounced through to cap the game's opening drive, but Maroney scored on a four-yard run later on New England's first time with the ball.
McKenzie's interception with just over a minute left in the opening quarter led to the Saints going ahead for good. Brees' 18-yard strike to Pierre Thomas, who spun at the goal line for the score, gave New Orleans a 10-7 lead 2:05 into the second quarter.
Following a New England punt, it took the Saints just one play to widen their lead thanks a busted coverage. Henderson ran a pattern over the middle and caught the ball in stride at the 50 behind the defense and raced to the end zone for a 75-yard score with 9:53 on the clock.
Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 36-yard field goal 5 1/2 minutes later, but New Orleans expanded the lead to 24-10 with 1:50 to go in the half on Brees' 38- yard throw to Robert Meachem in the end zone.
Gostkowski was wide left on a 50-yard field goal try in the waning seconds of the half.
New England had won the last three meetings... Brees has a league-leading 27 TD passes this season...This is New Orleans' first 11-win season since 1992 when the Saints went 12-4 before losing in the playoffs to Philadelphia...Sam Aiken had seven catches for 90 yards for the Patriots..Moss had 67 yards receiving but just three catches...Maroney had 15 rushes for 64 yards, while Thomas ended with 11 carries for 64 yards...The Saints have outscored their opponents 112-24 in the fourth quarter this season...Two weeks ago, the Patriots lost on the road to the Colts.
12/01 00:36:58 ET
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