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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saints are for real, Patriots are not

With one game, the New Orleans Saints proved to the NFL that they are the best team (forget Indy) at this moment. Similarly, with one pathetic performance, the New England Patriots raised many questions about their abilities when they play good teams.

In the Bill Belichick era, it's hard to remember a more thorough beating than the one the Saints (11-0) threw the Patriots (7-4) last night at the Superdome, 38-17.

Drew Brees (18 of 23, 371 yards passing, 5 TDs, perfect QB rating) completely tore apart New England's secondary. Marques Colston led New Orleans with 121 yards receiving and a touchdown while Devery Henderson had 116 yards and a touchdown and Robert Meachem added 69 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Tom Brady (21 of 36, 237 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) never looked comfortable and his main weapons, Randy Moss (3 catches, 67 yards) and Wes Welker (6 catches, 32 yards) were neutralized. The offensive stars for the Patriots were Laurence Maroney (64 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and Sam Aiken (7 catches, 90 yards) which is never a good sign.

After Jon Carney's 30-yard field goal gave the Saints a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, New England took its only lead of the game on Maroney's 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1.

New Orleans went up 10-7 after Pierre Thomas' 18-yard catch and run. At least four Patriot defenders whiffed at tackling him. Even more depressing than that was the blown coverage on the next Saints drive that allowed Henderson to be wide open for a 75-yard touchdown.

Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard kick cut it to 17-10 but you can't settle for field goals against the Saints. Brees closed out the first half with a perfectly threaded 38-yard touchdown pass to Meachem.

Maroney gave New England some life with a 2-yard touchdown to start the second half but the Saints came right back with a touchdown 1:22 later. Brees hit third tight end Darnell Dinkins for a 2-yard score. All that was left was a 20-yard touchdown pass to Colston in the fourth quarter and the Saints' quest for a perfect season look very good.

More relevant to me is where do the Patriots go from here? They'll be favored in and should win their last five games (no guarantees) but where is their signature win? They'll win the AFC East and make the playoffs. But how can anyone take this team seriously when they completely crumble against the best teams?

They go to Miami on Sunday to try and sweep the Dolphins this season.

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