Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a second quarter pass against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - This was hardly the expected script.
The New Orleans Saints staged a remarkable second-half rally in an effort to remain among the NFL's unbeatens...then lost it all on another Tom Brady-led comeback.
Brady's 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins with 5 seconds left in regulation pushed the Patriots to a 30-27 victory that capped a furious, 70-yard, 68-second drive that was executed with no timeouts -- and with half the crowd at Gillette Stadium already departed.
It was a wild finish to a wild game. Consider:
- Star Saints tight end Jimmy Graham entered the game as the NFL's leader for receiving yards...but left the game with zero catches. This, even after Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, who covered Graham exclusively for the first half, didn't return to the game after leaving in the third quarter with a hip injury.
- The Saints took their first lead and produced the game-winning points while facing third-and-20, when Drew Brees found Kenny Stills for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:29 remaining. Stills beat Alfonzo Dennard to cap a 10-play, 81-yard drive.
- Trailing by one point with just under three minutes to play, Bill Belichick burned the conventional coaching manual and went for it on fourth-and-six from New England's 24 yard line. Brady's pass over the middle for Aaron Dobson was broken up.
- After holding the Saints to a field goal that finished a possession that consumed just 22 seconds, the Patriots went deep on their next offensive snap. Bad move. There was no need to go for broke so soon, with about two-and-a-half minutes on the clock. Brady's deep heave for Julian Edleman was intercepted by Keenan Lewis.