Patriots

Patriots

Here are five quick-hit thoughts from what went down between the Patriots and Saints in New Orleans, starting with a strong response from Bill Belichick's club after a crushing defeat in the opener . . . 

1. Remember when Tom Brady called out the Patriots for their attitude and energy following the loss to the Chiefs? Seemed to work. The Patriots played with apparent enthusiasm and a renewed energy in New Orleans, which was evident throughout the matchup. Brady's touchdown pass to Chris Hogan resulted in a mini-outburst from the quarterback. Rob Gronkowski's 53-yard touchdown provoked a Hulkamania-style flex that got the Patriots going. Harvey Langi's special-teams tackle in the first quarter gave the Patriots a spark, as did the play up front of Deatrich's Wise (two quarterback hits, one sack through three quarters). There were lapses (a too-many-men penalty in the third quarter, letdowns by Nate Solder at left tackle), but overall it was a strong showing start-to-finish.

PATRIOTS 36, SAINTS 20

2. Brady's accuracy was on point. After the Chiefs game, there were some concerns about Brady slipping; Opening Night overthrows to Hogan to Dwayne Allen were served up as evidence. Against New Orleans, there were no such issues. His touch pass to Rex Burkhead was picture perfect. Gronkowski's score was thrown flat-footed, but it still hit the big tight end in stride. Gronk should've had another score on a well-thrown back-shoulder ball, but it was dropped. 

 

3. Gronkowski was looking strong . . . until he wasn't. He reeled in six catches for 116 yards and a score on nine targets, looking like his old self after catching just two passes in the opener. But on his final grab, Gronkowski went down and was slow to get up. He immediately called to the Patriots sideline for a substitution and soon thereafter headed for the medical tent. The biggest fear -- a recurrence of the back injury -- appeared to be unfounded, as it was announced to be a groin problem. He returned to the sideline and rode the exercise bike.

4. The Patriots were looking pretty banged up before the third quarter was over. Gronkowski left. Eric Rowe took off with a groin injury. Burkhead was held back and was seen hanging with head trainer Jim Whalen. Hogan was limping at times even though he remained in the game. And newly acquired Phillip Dorsett also made a trip to the tent late in the game. With Julian Edelman out for the year and Danny Amendola dealing with a concussion and a knee injury, the Patriots can't afford to lose many more bodies. 

5. The Patriots made a concerted effort to get Burkhead involved. Before his extended break (it's unclear what kind of ailment he was dealing with, if any), the team was clearly doing more to get him the football. He had just four touches against Kansas City but finished the first quarter with five touches and a 19-yard touchdown. Though he said last week that he wasn't a slot receiver, the route he ran on linebacker Alex Anzalone came from out of the slot. 

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