Week 11 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 17, New England Patriots 24
What you need to know
The Saints lost their sixth straight game but put up a good fight in New England. Aaron Brooks played well, throwing for 343 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Joe Horn was his favorite receiver with 16 targets, but Donte’ Stallworth was only just behind and also caught both touchdown passes.
The running game never got going, although Aaron Stecker was effective as a receiver. The Saints haven’t won a game since losing Deuce McAllister for the year.
The defense did well for most of the day but gave up a long touchdown pass to Andre Davis. Despite having the edge in time of possession and total yardage, the Saints fell just short as the last play of the game was intercepted in the end zone.
The Patriots won consecutive games for the first time this season in conditions ideal for football. Tom Brady had a good day, throwing three touchdown passes including a 60 yarder to Andre Davis. With David Givens sidelined, Brady looked for Andre Davis much more and he ended the day with a team leading seven targets. Deion Branch and Mike Vrabel also caught touchdown passes.
Corey Dillon was inactive for the game but the Patriots were still able to run the ball well. They gained 132 net rushing yards with Heath Evans and Patrick Pass taking up the slack.
The defense contained the Saints well enough to win the game but did not make many big plays before intercepting Brooks in the end zone on the Saints’ final play.
What you ought to know
|QB Aaron Brooks, Pass: 27 - 50 - 343 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 30 - 0|
Brooks had a big game. He attempted 50 passes as the Saints failed to get much going on the ground. He was able to scramble and avoid the pass rush, and was only sacked once in the game. Eight of his passes were for gains of 20 yards or over, and he also had a 20 yard run. Horn was targeted 16 times and Stallworth 13 as the Saints tried to overturn a 24-7 deficit. Brooks threw two touchdown passes, both to Donte’ Stallworth. Brooks might have had an even bigger game. He overthrew Horn on the opening drive when Horn was clear of the defender and would likely have scored a touchdown. Stallworth and Horn were both targeted in the back of the end zone but the passes were slightly overthrown. Brooks threw an interception on the final play of the game when trying to force the ball to Joe Horn for what would have been the tying score. He wasted valuable time through poor clock management on the final drive. Brooks went past Archie Manning as the Saints’ leading touchdown passer, as his two scores took him to 116 touchdowns for the team. Brooks was hurt in the first half after a hit from Willie McGinest, but did not have to leave the game.
Stecker had a good game. He was slightly more efficient than Smith at running the ball, and he was able to make some big plays as a receiver. He caught a 21 yard pass on the drive that led to the Saints’ opening touchdown, and was able to convert several first downs, both on the ground and in the passing game. He returned kicks well, and had a 46 yarder to set up the Saints’ second touchdown of the game.
Smith only had 11 carries on the day as the Saints trailed for the whole game. He was often forced to try and run wide, which limited his effectiveness as he is mainly a downhill runner.
Karney was targeted once in the game, making the catch for a two yard gain.
|WR Joe Horn, Rec: 6 - 80 - 0 (16 targets)|
Horn was targeted 16 times in the game. He caught six passes for 80 yards but could have had a much bigger game. Brooks threw to Horn despite triple coverage and found him for a 28 yard gain on the Saints’ fourth drive, his only catch of the first half. Horn was targeted in the end zone on the Saints’ second drive after the half, but the pass was almost picked off by Ellis Hobbs. Brooks went back to Horn in the end zone on the following drive, but the ball was just overthrown and went off his fingertips. The final play of the game saw Horn targeted in the end zone for a third time, but it was a desperate throw into double coverage and it was picked off by Eugene Wilson. Horn showed no signs of injury after injuring his hamstring earlier in the year.
Despite being questionable earlier in the week, Stallworth looked ready to play in this game. He was targeted 13 times by Brooks, catching six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Stallworth had a 26 yard catch on the opening drive of the game, and all of his receptions were for a first down or a touchdown. He did drop one pass that would have been about a 20 yard gain. Brooks overthrew him in the end zone on one occasion and the catch was made out of bounds. Stallworth was able to make touchdown receptions of seven yards and 12 yards to keep the Saints in with a chance until the end of the game.
Hakim caught two of his three targets. The highlight was a 32 yard gain on third and eleven to keep alive the drive that led to the Saints’ opening score. He also returned punts.
With Ernie Conwell sidelined, Hilton was able to provide Brooks with another viable target. He gained 25 yards on second and twenty six, but the Saints failed to convert. He caught a 20 yard pass on a drive that ended with a field goal, but his one drop earlier in the game would have been another first down.
Carney missed a 30 yard attempt after a delay of game cost the Saints five yards. He hit his other attempt from 46 yards and made both extra point tries.
The Patriots were able to run the ball effectively despite the absence of Corey Dillon. The Saints gave up 132 net rushing yards at 4.4 yards per carry and did not look like they were going to stop the run. Will Smith tackled Patrick Pass for a loss on one play and the officials called a fumble on the field, but the call was reversed on a challenge by the Patriots.
The Saints surrendered three passing touchdowns in the game. The pass rush pressured Brady well at times but the Saints showed a lack of discipline. Will Smith and Mike McKenzie gave away needless penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and both lost their heads for part of the game. The Saints allowed Brady to complete a 60 yard touchdown pass to Andre Davis, and came close to giving up several big plays to Davis as Brady continually looked to him deep. Will Smith and Charles Grant both sacked Brady, and then Smith and Tony Bryant split a third sack. Smith’s solo sack caused a fumble which was recovered for the Saints by Colby Bockwoldt.
|QB Tom Brady, Pass: 15 - 29 - 222 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0|
Brady was responsible for all three of the Patriots’ touchdowns. He led the team 98 yards down the field on its opening drive, resulting in a two yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch. Mike Vrabel was the recipient of the second touchdown pass from a yard out. The third score was a beautifully thrown 60 yard pass that led Andre Davis clear of the defender and on to the end zone. Brady looked long for Davis on several occasions. He underthrew him on one play that was almost picked by Mike McKenzie. He looked for Davis on the opening drive of the second half and overthrew the receiver for what could have been a score. He just missed him again for another possible long touchdown later in the game, and it looked as though interference should have been called. He made a final attempt on the Patriots’ last drive but was not close to completing the pass. Brady scrambled once for a first down and fumbled once after being sacked by Will Smith.
|RB Heath Evans, Rush: 16 - 74 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (2 targets)|
Evans was the main ball carrier with Corey Dillon inactive. He ran the ball very hard, but failed to get in from a yard out on the Patriots’ second drive before Brady threw to Vrabel in the end zone. Evans had a 20 yard run for a first down and followed it with a 15 yard reception. Evans gained several first downs and looked capable of carrying the ball should Dillon be out of action for a prolonged period. He caught both passes thrown his way.
|RB Patrick Pass, Rush: 13 - 53 - 0, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (4 targets)|
After missing games due to a hamstring injury, Pass started the game for the Patriots with Dillon out. He took a screen pass 29 yards on the Patriots’ second drive, breaking multiple tackles before being brought down at the one yard line. He had a 31 yard in the second half and looked good running the ball when called upon. He did fumble once and the Saints recovered, but he was ruled down after the Patriots challenged the call.
Dillon was inactive for this game.
Branch had a quiet day considering David Givens was inactive. He caught three passes on the Patriots’ opening drive. Two were for a first down; the other was a two yard touchdown. He took a big hit making his first catch but held on to the ball. Brady later overthrew him for what would have been a big gain, but he then made a great catch for a nine yard gain which also drew a 15 yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds by Mike McKenzie.
Davis only made one catch in the game, but it went for a 60 yard touchdown. Four of the incompletions came when Brady looked deep to Davis. He might have had one or two more long touchdowns had the passes been more accurate. One of the incompletions looked to have drawn pass interference, but the call never came.
Dwight was unable to catch any of his three targets. He almost brought in a poorly thrown pass for a gain of around 30 yards, but just failed to stretch far enough.
Givens was inactive for this game.
Watson was a big factor early in the game. He made a 29 yard reception on the Patriots’ opening drive, adjusting well to make the catch. Watson was then the target on fourth and two and he made the catch to keep the drive alive, before making a 23 yard reception. Watson caught everything thrown his way but was not targeted in the second half. He still ended the day as the receiver with the most yards for the Patriots.
Fauria did not make a catch in the game but made a great diving effort on a badly thrown pass in the end zone, and was just unable to hold on.
Vinatieri was perfect on the day, making a 37 yard field goal and all three extra point attempts.
The Patriots did well against the run, holding the Saints to 87 net rushing yards. The Saints largely abandoned the run when they trailed by 17 points in the fourth quarter. Mike Vrabel led the Patriots in tackles with eight solos and three assists.
The pass defense gave up a lot of big plays in the game, including eight of 20 yards or more, but only two passes went for touchdowns. Brooks was often given time to throw, and was able to escape the rush when it threatened. Willie McGinest had the Patriots’ only sack of the game and Eugene Wilson intercepted the final pass of the game. Asante Samuel briefly left the game with an injury but was able to return. The Patriots blitzed often but were usually unable to cause problems.