THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Lost in the flow

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / December 1, 2009

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NEW ORLEANS - Earlier this season, Patriots rookie quarterback Brian Hoyer took snaps in the snow as the Patriots were enjoying a 50-point lead against Tennessee at Gillette Stadium.

Last night, he stepped on the field with the Patriots facing a 21-point deficit with 5:17 left in the fourth quarter against the Saints at the Superdome. Most of the starters were out of the game and left to stare at the 38-17 score.

It was a different kind of experience for Hoyer and the Patriots.

“They just put it to us, simple as that,’’ said Patriots receiver Randy Moss, who had three catches for 67 yards.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 21 of 36 passes for 237 yards but also threw two interceptions with no touchdown passes and had a miserable quarterback rating of 55.0.

The Saints’ defense entered last night with the NFL lead in takeaways and interceptions and continued to swallow up the Patriots’ offense most of the game.

As a team, the Patriots had 122 yards rushing on 28 carries.

Whether it was zone or double coverage or man-to-man, Moss said the defensive approach wasn’t any different, the offense just lacked flow.

“It didn’t feel like we had any rhythm,’’ Moss said. “We had those spurts where we strive to gain that rhythm but we just couldn’t put things together. There was some self-inflicted wounds that we had out there on both sides of the ball. There were some things that you can’t let a good team like that take advantage of.’’

Visions of what the Patriots offense once resembled could be seen by watching Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

He fired at will downfield and ended up with 371 yards and five touchdowns - on a mere 18 completions - and a perfect QB rating of 158.3

Red-zone troubles continued to plague the Patriots, who were 2 of 4 inside the 20-yard line.

“We’re just not playing as consistently as we would like against these good teams and that’s what you need to do,’’ Brady said.

Fighting the big deficit, Patriots coach Bill Belichick went for it on fourth-and-4 on the 10-yard line in the third quarter. Cornerback Mike McKenzie broke up a pass targeted for Moss, typifying the kind of night it had been for the Patriots.

“It was no doubt that we needed some points at that point,’’ Belichick said. “I thought that we were running the game well at that point offensively. I thought that we needed more than a field goal the way the game was going. McKenzie made a good play over there.’’

But the bottom line, said Belichick, was that the best team won.

“They were better than we were in every phase of the game,’’ he said.

“I don’t know how to put it any other way.’’

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