A half empty Gillette Stadium witnessed one of the greatest ends to a game in recent memory. With 73 seconds left and no timeouts remaining who else would you want leading your offense in to the last chance saloon other than Tom Brady. After all it was Terrific Tom who rallied the Patriots to victory in Louisiana at Super Bowl XXXVI when the team had no timeouts and just 1:30 left in regulation.
After turning the ball over on downs deep in their own half a Garrett Hartley field goal put New Orleans up 27-23 leaving the Pats needing a touchdown. Brady gathered the troops but then threw an interception on the first play of the drive shortly before the two minute warning which appeared to confirm defeat for Bill Belichick’s team. The Saints offense was thwarted by New England’s defense with their big stops giving Tom Brady and co had a chance to win the game.
The offense moved with urgency with the first pass completed when Brady hit Edelman in the middle of the field on a 23 yard play before throwing over the middle again on the second play of the drive to Austin Collie for the 15 yard reception. With time ticking away the team hurried to line but Brady was as composed as ever as he completed an important 6 yard pass to Aaron Dobson on the sideline with the rookie wideout being dragged out of bounds forcing the clock to stop.
At this point it appeared anything could happen but after two incomplete passes it looked like the Saints may hold out for the win as arguably the most crucial moment of the drive came up with the Patriots needing 4 yards to keep their hopes alive; Brady hit Collie on the left side for 9 yards to get the first down. The team spiked the ball after quickly lining up in formation meaning that with 10 seconds to go the team realistically had two shots at the end zone to win the game.
But the Patriots only needed one attempt with Brady showing why he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time by keeping calm and composed as he hit Thompkins in the left corner of the end zone with a perfect throw over the arms of the helpless defensive back Jabari Greer. The three-time Super Bowl champion had done it; his 342nd career touchdown pass, tying him with Fran Tarkenton for fourth all-time, was one fans of the Patriots will remember for years to come as getting a win with 5 seconds to go against very good opposition is something you don’t forget quickly.
It’s the 37th time Tom Brady has led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie as well as the fifth game in his illustrious career in which Brady threw a game-winning TD pass in the final minute to turn a New England deficit into a win. The win over New Orleans will give Bill Belichick’s men a new found belief and confidence in themselves especially the young guys. This is extremely valuable as soon they will be approaching the business end of the season and will want to claim a bye in the playoffs so to get a momentous win like this can only be a good thing.
The Patriots are now 5-1 are now tied for the second best record in the league and are heading in to a big divisional rival matchup against the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium which will host the upcoming Super Bowl in around 4 months. The young guys will get a feel and taste of a stadium which will host the big game come the end of the season so a memorable win over the Jets may even inspire the team to push even harder to go one step further and have a shot at creating an even more memorable experience by getting back to MetLife in February.
Unfortunately for New England the injuries are piling up with defensive captain Jerod Mayo officially being placed on injured reserve yesterday meaning he joins Vince Wilfork on the sidelines for the rest of the 2013 season. Cornerback Aqib Talib also sustained a hip injury on Sunday which is not good news considering he is one of the best shutdown corners in the league and was instrumental in keeping Saints tight end Jimmy Graham at bay as he finished the match with no catches; thankfully Dennard, Arrington and McCourty all contributed in making sure Graham was kept quiet by doing their part defensively.
On offense Danny Amendola suffered a nasty head injury leaving him with a concussion which is not good news for an already thin New England receiving core. After some key catches on Sunday during that final drive Austin Collie could play against the Jets while Dobson and Thompkins continue to get better and better week by week as well as the fact that the Patriots are still waiting on superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski to make his long awaited return to the field. Stevan Ridley had his best performance of the season with two touchdown runs for 110 yards so the offense is clearly progressing.
Despite the defensive injuries mentioned already the team re-signed DT Andre Neblett whilst Dont’a Hightower could possibly take over Jerod Mayo’s role; arguably it would suit it more than his current role considering that is where he played most at Bama. Fellow Sophomore Chandler Jones is becoming extremely valuable to the D and came up with a big sack against the Saints whilst rookie Jamie Collins will see more game time due to the teams injuries. New England’s defense has forced a turnover in 33 straight games which is the longest active NFL streak.
The Patriots have faced adversity early on in the season but 5 wins out of 6 is extremely impressive. There are many more challenges ahead but the old saying of ‘next man up’ is working for the team with the roster helping each other win games as a team through hard work and determination. There are trade rumours swirling regarding a wideout with Kenny Britt, Josh Gordan, Emmanuel Sanders and even Hakeem Nicks all possibilities for the Patriots offense. Regardless of that the Pats’ defense and offense have proved their worth throughout these opening six games by helping each other grind out wins with quality performances which makes it clear to see that New England remains as one of the best teams in the National Football League.