FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The outlook was bleak, but Tom Brady proved why he is Tom Brady with his 17-yard touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins, with five ticks remaining on the clock.
The Patriots squandered a 10-point halftime lead, having scored just six points in the first 29:55, but with 1:13 left in the game, they put together the game-winning drive when it mattered most and pulled out the surprise win, 30-27.
The victory is deodorant for the stink of the Patriots' first loss of the season, last week against the Bengals, but now at 5-1 on the season, this passes the smell test as a resilient team that will be in the mix until the very end.
Even in victory, the Patriots weren't perfect, so let's take a look at some players whose stock went up and some others whose stock took a hit this week.
Tom Brady: Brady started red hot going 16-for-20 for 163 yards in the first half, but appeared to lose his touch in the second half, and was 4-for-15 for 36 yards and a pick before going 5-for-8 for 70 yards on the comeback drive. It was Brady's second fourth-quarter comeback in the 2013 season, and the 27th of his career.
Stevan Ridley: A huge performance for the Patriots lead running back. He piled up 61 yards on 11 carries in the first half, and scored his first (and second) touchdown of the season in the process. He finished the game with 20 carries for 96 yards and the two touchdowns. Ridley missed Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but ran hard and determined on Sunday night, stiff-arming and breaking tackles left and right.
Kenbrell Thompkins: Hauled in the game-winning touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone. The 17-yard touchdown was Thompkins' fourth touchdown catch of the season, and although there have been ups and downs along the way, he has mostly shaken off the stigma of his tough start.
Kyle Arrington: Made two big plays in coverage on tight end Jimmy Graham: the first, an interception, gave the Patriots the ball deep in Saints territory; the second, a pass-defensed, temporarily prevented the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
Injuries: Lots of them for the Patriots today, and big ones. Dan Connolly (concussion), Aqib Talib (hip), Danny Amendola (concussion) and Jerod Mayo (shoulder) all left the game and didn't return. The loss of Wilfork, the continued absence of Rob Gronkowski, and a second injury to Amendola have brought the offseason narratives of the Patriots as an injury-prone team back to the forefront.
Patriots defensive line: Struggled to get much pressure on Drew Brees, especially up the middle, and logged just one sack of Brees on the day (courtesy of defensive end Chandler Jones). The Saints began running straight down the throat of the Patriots defense in the second half and were successful doing so, logging 112 yards on 20 carries in the final 30 minutes of regulation.
Aaron Dobson: Had a very strong showing, but three negative plays really hurt the Patriots. He dropped an easy pass on the first play of the game, had a key offensive pass-interference penalty on the first play of the second half, and a drop on a failed 4th-and-6 pass.
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