Saints dealt emotional loss in New England

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Drew Brees gets hit by Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones. Photo by Michael C. Hebert.

As heart-wretching as it was for the Saints in Foxboro on Sunday evening, they have to remember, it's just one loss.

With Sean Payton and Drew Brees as your team leaders, you don't expect to see the team take a psychological plunge, but it doesn't mean it can't happen. Sometimes a slip-up this devastating can cause a hangover that lingers into the following weeks and sparks a downward spiral.

Losing your first game of the season at New England against a 5-1 Patriots team is nothing to cry over. The Patriots are known for being almost unbeatable in Foxboro; it's just the way that the Saints lost that can prove to be crippling if they don't respond properly.

Drew Brees led an amazing drive that culminated in a miraculous 34-yard touchdown hookup on thrid-and-20 to give them their first lead of the game at 24-23.

The Saint defense played their hearts out for most of the game and forced a huge turnover on downs that helped New Orleans extend the lead to 27-23.

Tom Brady got the ball back and on his very first pass, he was picked off by offseason pickup Keenan Lewis. That looked like it would be the clincher.

However, with the Patriots having a timeout and the two-minute warning to work with, the Saints were only able to bleed the clock to 1:12.

From there, it was an absolute nightmare. A Saint defense that had just made two straight stops was absolutely diced by Brady as he marched the Patriots 70 yards downfield with no timeouts.

With just five seconds remaining, Brady hit undrafted free agent rookie Kenbrell Thompkins for a 17-yard touchdown that ripped out the heart of the collective Saints nation.

The knockout blow handed New Orleans their first loss of the year after an impressive 5-0 start.

Brees may not have put up the numbers Saints fans are used to seeing, but his 236 yards and two scores are high marks considering the defense he was facing.

New England ranks No. 13 in the league against the pass and with Jimmy Graham being held without a catch, the Saint offense was limited all day.

One thing New Orleans can be happy about is the way they ran the ball. After having a non-existent running game for much of the year, they rolled up 131 yards against New England.

Defensively, the Saints showed chinks in the armor for the first time this year. They had been so stout under Rob Ryan but on Sunday, they gave up 30 points. That was the first time all season that they gave up more than 18.

Along with the points, the Patriots piled up 376 total yards despite Brady being sacked five times.

If the Saints can shake off the bitter defeat, things are still looking up for them. They're still looking good at 5-1 and competing with the Seahawks for homefield advantage in the playoffs. They still lead the division by three games.

One bright spot about the New England loss is the timing. With their first bye week on the horizon, they now have two weeks to completely flush the memories of the New England collapse out of their systems.

They may even decide to embrace those dreaded memories and use them as motivation heading into the rest of the season. We'll find out which path they take next Sunday when they host the injury-plagued Bills.