"Well, I'm sorry you had to rewrite some of those [game] stories at the end."
That's how New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick began his postgame press conference on Sunday evening -- with a smile that showed obvious relief. It was an emotion felt by everyone on Belichick's team, soon after Tom Brady threw a 17-yard pass to receiver Kenbrell Thompkins with five second left in the game to give the Pats a 30-27 victory. The win moved the Pats to 5-1, and knocked the Saints from the ranks of the undefeated.
The Saints and the beat writers moving quickly to make deadline may have been cursing Brady and Belichick, but the Saints had nobody to blame but themselves. With 2:24 left in the game, Brady threw a pass to Julian Edelman that was intercepted by cornerback Keenan Lewis, and New Orleans' offense atypically mangled the clock, and it wasn't the first time. The Saints got the ball at the New England 24-yard line with 2:46 left in the game after New England gave the ball up on downs. New Orleans went three-and-out in both subsequent drives, and ran less than two total minutes off the clock. The Saints punted the ball back to the Pats with 1:20 left, and Brady had the ball at his own 30-yard line.
From there, it was predictable. Brady went 5-of-7 on the subsequent drive, hitting Thompkins with a perfect strike over cornerback Jabari Greer to decide the game.
"We were kind of paying attention to the clock and we were trying to get some yardage and possibly get a first down," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "We were getting a heavy front with the risk of throwing it and the clock stopping. So, we can wrestle with that for a while, but they made the stops when they needed to, got the ball back and made plays. Next question."
Few who watched the game until then would have predicted a New England win. Brady completed 25-of-43 passes for 265 yards, one interception and no touchdowns before the dagger at the end, in a game that featured far too many drops from his inexperienced and oft-maligned receiver corps. The Pats stayed in the game with two touchdown runs from Stevan Ridley, three field goals from Stephen Gostkowski and an outstanding defensive effort. Cornerback Aqib Talib led the way on defense, shutting out Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and providing blanket coverage until he suffered a hip injury in the third quarter. Graham also hurt his left ankle in the game.
Brady, who was sacked five times, threw some questionable passes, and some decent throws to some guys who didn't quite know what to do with them, but he is his own narrative -- when it counted, and his team needed it, Brady did what he does quite well. The touchdown pass was the 342nd of Brady's career, tying him with Fran Tarkenton for fourth all-time.
"I was proud of the way we hung in there and never stopped fighting." Brady said after the game. "There was little margin for error there at the end based on the situation we were in, and guys really made some great catches."
As for Saints defensive coordiantor Rob Ryan ... well, one look says it all.