The New England Patriots raced to an early lead and never looked back on their way to a 36-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The loss dropped the Saints to 0-2. The Patriots are 1-1.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady passed for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter. He was 5 for 5 on third down in the opening quarter and it was the first time in his career he had three TD passes in the opening quarter. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was a handful for the Saints as he caught five passes for 95 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown reception, in the first half. Brady finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards while Gronkowski ended with six catches for 116 yards
Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offense tried to keep pace in the first half but had to settle for two Wil Lutz field goals after they marched inside the red zone. Brees did connect with receiver Brandon Coleman on a 5-yard scoring pass in the second quarter. The Saints could have tried another field-goal attempt late in the second quarter but elected to try for it on fourth-and-three. Brees’ pass to Ted Ginn Jr.fell incomplete. The defending Super Bowl champions took the ball and marched to a 28-yard field goal by Stephen Gostowski as the half ended.
The Saints got their first stop when linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha sacked Brady on third-and-8. The Pats were 5 of 7 on third down in the opening half and 6 for 12 for the game. The Saints were 2 of 6 in the half and 4 for 12 for the game.
The Saints had two interceptions wiped out by penalty. One for having 12 men on the field, the second for defensive holding.
The Saints’ second touchdown came on a 4-yard reception by Coby Fleener in the fourth quarter.
The Saints played without both of their starting offensive tackles (Terron Armstead, Zach Strief) and with receiver Willie Snead IV serving the second of a three-game suspension. Rookie defensive end Trey Hendrickson saw his first action but left in the first half with an inury. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore, one of the team’s two 2017 first-round picks, left the game in the second half and entered the league’s concussion protocol.
Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks, traded to New England this offseason, had little impact on the game catching two passes for 37 yards.
The Saints play at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 24 and from there will travel to London to take on the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 1. Their next game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is Oct. 15.