Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 28-yard field goal with 53 seconds left to lift the Patriots to a victory at Gillette Stadium in their preseason opener.
The Patriots held a 24-7 lead in the third quarter, but the Saints tied it on Garrett Hartley's field goal with 6:37 left.
Wes Welker did not play for the Patriots, but Julian Edelman had six receptions for 90 yards and also returned a pun t 40 yards to set up the Patriots' first score, a 35-yard Gostkowski field goal in the first quarter.
Laurence Maroney had two touchdown runs for the Patriots and Tom Brady hit 5 of 8 passes for 67 yards.
4th quarter, .49, Patriots 27, Saints 24: Rookie Sergio Brown had a powerful hit on Montez Billings, jarring the ball loose as Eric Alexander came in for the interception.
4th quarter, .53, Patriots 27, Saints 24: Stephen Gostkowski kicks 28-yard field goal to give Patriots the lead. Drive: 9 plays, 65 yards, 1:47.
4th quarter, 1:47, Patriots 24, Saints 24: Darnell Jenkins motored along the sideline to take a Zac Robinson pass 52 yards into Saints territory. Patriots have ball on Saints 13.
4th quarter, 2:40, Patriots 24, Saints 24: Garrett Hartley converts 23-yard field goal. Terrence Wheatley made shoestring tackle to force the Saints to take the 3-points. Drive: 13 plays, 65 yards, 6:37.
4th quarter, 8:18, Patriots 24, Saints 21: Saints QB Chase Daniel is in the game for the first time.
4th quarter, 9:17, Patriots 24, Saints 21: Saints fumble punt but recover the ball. They will start this drive from their 30.
4th quarter, 10:29, Patriots 24, Saints 21: RB Chris Taylor is handling carries in this quarter for the Pats.
3d quarter, 0:00, Patriots 24, Saints 21: What felt like the world's longest quarter, has come to an end. Teams are well into their depth charts at this point.
3d quarter, 5:50, Patriots 24, Saints 21: Rookie Zac Robinson is in the game at QB. Hoyer was 8 of 13 for 106 yards.
3d quarter, 7:15, Patriots 24, Saints 21: Saints RB Chris Ivory runs 2 YDs for TD. Drive: 4 plays, 68 yards, 1:24.
3d quarter, 10:17, Patriots 24, Saints 14: Special teams break down for the Patriots as Larry Beavers returns kickoff 97 yards for touchdown.
3d quarter, 10:35, Patriots 24, Saints 7: Maroney handles bulk of carries to start 3d and picks up 1-yd TD. Thomas Williams was in at fullback on two of the plays. Drive: 8 plays, 45 yards, 4:25.
2d quarter, 1:35, Patriots 17, Saints 7: Zoltan Mesko gets his first opportunity of the night, with a 40-yard punt.
2d quarter, 3:50, Patriots 17, Saints 7: Drew Brees is out of the game. He was 9 of 13 for 55 yards and was sacked once. Patrick Ramsey replaces him.
2d quarter, 5:08, Patriots 17, Saints 7: Laurence Maroney gets a TD on his first carry of the night. Maroney ran 5 yards for the TD. Drive: 10 plays, 79 yards, 4:24.
2d quarter, 9:25, Patriots 10, Saints 7: Tom Brady's night is over. Brian Hoyer is in for the first time tonight. Brady took 17 snaps in the preseason opener. Brady completed 5 of 8 passes for 67 yards.
2d quarter, 9:32, Patriots 10, Saints 7: The Patriots defense was put to work as the Saints burned 10:01 off the clock on a 20-play, 86-yard drive that ended with Reggie Bush's 2-yard TD run.
2d quarter, 12:11, Patriots 10, Saints 0: Gerard Warren gets pressure on Brees contributing to an incomplete pass.
2d quarter, 13:37, Patriots 10, Saints 0: Rookie cornerback Devin McCourty swarms in on Saints receiver Devery Henderson to break up pass from Drew Brees.
1st quarter, 0:00, Patriots 10, Saints 0: Patriots offense bounces back with nice drive that led to first touchdown of preseason. Meanwhile, defense is in the midst of a challenge as Saints are on Patriots 43 to start the 2d.
1st quarter, 4:33, Patriots 10, Saints 0: Green-Ellis takes advantage of nice block by Connolly to stroll in 6 yards for the touchdown. Drive: 14 plays, 93 yards, 6:19.
1st quarter,5:07, Patriots 3, Saints 0: Dan Connolly has started the first two drives at left guard. Also of note, BenJarvus Green-Ellis out with the first team on first two drives.
1st quarter,12:59, Patriots 3, Saints 0: Stephen Gostkowski converts 35-yard field goal after Patriots are stumped in the red zone. Two incomplete passes for Tom Brady on the opening drive. Drive: Four plays, 3 yards, 45 seconds.
1st quarter,13:44, Patriots 0, Saints 0: Julian Edelman with a nice punt return for 40 yards. Patriots start first offensive series from the Saints 19.
1st quarter, 13:56, Patriots 0, Saints 0: Marques Murrell gets an 11-yard sack on Drew Brees to end Saints opening drive.
Patriots defensive starters included: Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, Marques Murrell, Gerard Warren, VInce Wilfork, Mike Wright, Tully Banta-Cain, Patrick Chung, Brandon Meriweather, Devin McCourty, Darius Butler.
Patriots offensive starters: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light, Randy Moss, Alge Crumpler, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Tom Brady.