After a lackluster performance on opening day against the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots looked like a different team in their week two game against the New Orleans Saints. No matter if offense, defense or special teams, the defending world champions finally were able to live up to their potential en route to their first victory of the season.
New England Patriots (1-1): 36
New Orleans Saints (0-2): 20
New England received the opening kickoff and promptly drove 75 yards in 10 plays to take a 6-0 lead: Tom Brady connected with offseason acquisition Rex Burkhead for a 19-yard score - the first touchdown of the season for both players. However, the extra point attempt by kicker Stephen Gostkowski bounced off the left upright and the score remained 6-0.
After the Saints' first possession cut the lead to 6-3, New England's offense again marched down the field. The team's second drive - 75 yards in five plays - was capped by Rob Gronkowski's first touchdown reception of the year. The league's best tight end took a Tom Brady pass 53 yards to give his team a 13-3 lead.
The Patriots' defense forced a punt on the home team's next series and the football was back in the hands of Tom Brady and New England's offense. And once again the unit was meeting little resistance on its way to yet another score. Capping a 67-yards, nine play drive, Tom Brady connected with Chris Hogan to extend the lead to 20-3.
At that point, however, the Saints offense came to life and scored on two consecutive possessions to come within a touchdown of the Patriots. The reigning champions responded in style, though, and drove 75 yards in six plays to increase their lead to 27-13 on a two-yard touchdown run by Mike Gillislee.
New Orleans was able to drive into field goal range again on the next series but the Patriots' defense stopped the team on 4th down, which in turn set up yet another scoring drive: New England started at its own 25-yard line and marched 65 yards in 2:23 to set up a last-second field goal to bring the lead to 30-13.
After New Orleans received the second half kickoff, both teams exchanged punts. The Saints were able to drive into field goal range but following a pass breakup by Jonathan Jones on third down, kicker Will Lutz missed a 49-yard field goal attempt. The Patriots turned the miss into three points of their own but lost tight end Rob Gronkowski to a groin injury along the way.
After Stephen Gostkowski's second field goal of the day - a 24-yarder -, New England's kicker added another one - a 27-yarder - early in the fourth quarter to give his team a 36-13 lead. The Saints responded with a touchdown drive to come within 16 points but the ensuing onside kick was caught by Chris Hogan. The Patriots took advantage and drained four minutes off the game clock, not leaving the Saints any chance for a comeback.
Thanks to their 36-20 victory, the Patriots improve to 1-1 while the Saints fall to 0-2.