The New England Patriots fell to 1-2 on Sunday after a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. It’s just the Patriots’ fourth 1-2 start under Bill Belichick, and their first since 2018.
Defensively, the Patriots held up their end of the bargain. Of the 28 points scored by New Orleans, 14 game off turnovers – including a pick six.
However, the Patriots’ offense struggled to move the ball for most of the game. After abandoning the run early, they reached the red zone just once, with the trip ending in a field goal.
After both teams traded punts to start the game, the Saints put together the first big drive of the game. Moving the ball 69 yards in 11 plays, New Orleans converted two third downs and capped things off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara.
Following another Patriots punt, the Saints started marching again. However, a solid open field tackle from J.C. Jackson on 3rd & 6 forced them to attempt a 52-yard field goal, with Aldrick Rosas missed wide left. After one quarter, New Orleans led 7-0.
The next two Patriots drive ended in punts, the second of which was blocked. That field position put the Saints in position for a chip-shot field goal, but Rosas missed again.
However, Mac Jones gave the ball right back, throwing the first interception of his career. New Orleans turned it into seven points, on a circus throw from Winston.
HOW DID JAMEIS PULL THIS OFF 😱— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 26, 2021
Working on the two-minute drill, the Patriots’ offense showed signs of live, driving 53 yards in just five plays. Faced with a 3rd & 1 from the Saints’ 22, they ran a stretch handoff which was stuffed. Hunter Henry then committed a false start on 4th & 1, and they settled for a field goal. That kick made it 14-3 at the half.
Things didn’t get much better to start the second half. On the first place from scrimmage, Mac Jones hit a wide open Jonnu Smith. The ball bounced right off Smith’s hands, right to Malcolm Jenkins, who returned it for a pick six.
The Patriots responded with a 16-play, 72-yard drive that took over nine minutes off the clock. Once inside the red zone, they ran two straight shotgun handoffs before a completion short of the sticks on third down, and settled for a field goal. That sent the game into the fourth quarter with a score of 21-6 Saints.
A quick stop of the Saints got the ball right back in Mac Jones’ hands. He picked up right where he left off. After a 12-yard scramble, he lofted a throw up the sideline to Kendrick Bourne, who adjusted to make the catch, then stepped out of a tackle and just reached the ball across the goal line. The score made it 21-13 with 9:22 to go.
MAC JONES THROWS IT UP TO KENDRICK BOURNE FOR THE TD!— Tyler Milliken (@tylermilliken_) September 26, 2021
RIGHT AFTER RIPPING THE KNEE BRACE OFF! #Patriots | #ForeverNE| #NOvsNE pic.twitter.com/wF42OQEItU
Needing a stop to save the game, New England’s defense surrendered a backbreaking 13-play, 75-yard drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock. Taysom Hill’s four-yard touchdown run capped the drive and put the game away at 28-13. A third Jones interception in the final seconds sealed the decision.
Jones finished the game 30/51, for 270 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 28 yards on six carries.
Bourne was Jones’ top target with 96 yards and a score on six catches. Jakobi Meyers was the volume option with nine catches and 94 yards.
Defensively, Ja’Whaun Bentley led the Patriots with seven tackles, and had a pass breakup. Elsewhere, Matt Judon finished with 2.5 sacks.
Attention now turns to Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will be at Gillette next Sunday. That game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. with coverage on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.