NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - The New Orleans Saints held the lead for most of the game, but lost in the final seconds to the New England Patriots, 26-24. It was the first game of the 2015 preseason played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
I think you want to have a good taste in your mouth. You want to win the games, but there's elements to the game that you are wanting to see throughout, not just in the first half," said Saints head coach Sean Payton. "But I was pleased early on emotionally with how our guys came out. I thought we had good focus."
Quarterback Drew Brees had a great showing, starting the game for the Saints (0-2). With three scoring drives in the first quarter, Brees was 8 of 10 for 159 yards and had two touchdowns. The drives covered 61, 62 and 63 yards.
"I thought he was sharp. He was good," said Payton about Brees.
WR Brandin Cooks led the Saints in receiving with 117, catching all four passes that were thrown to him that included one from Brees for a 45-yard touchdown. Brees' first touchdown of the night was a 10-yard pass to TE Benjamin Watson.
After the game, Brees addressed his issues with throwing after the injury to his oblique muscle, saying he was trying to "manufacture power just because it wasn't coming from the places that it should." He said he started developing bad habits when overcompensating to protect the muscle and went back to the basics during the offseason.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady only played nine snaps, and the New England offense went three and out on three straight possessions. Jimmy Garappolo came in for Brady before the end of the first quarter. In three series, Brady was 2 of 5 for 13 yards. Garappolo ended the game 28 of 33 for 269 yards with a 11-yard touchdown to WR Chris Harper.
Quarterback Luke McCown entered the game for the Saints' first drive of the second quarter. He was 4 of 6 for 49 yards and had one touchdown with a 6-yard pass to TE Josh Hill.
On all three touchdowns in the first half, the Saints attempted two-point conversions but failed each time. New Orleans led 21-7 at halftime.
Saints kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 55-yard field goal at the beginning of the third quarter. He hit a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter to get the Saints on the board first.
Ryan Griffin came in to replace McCown as quarterback for the Saints in the third quarter.
The Saints had one turnover near the end of the third quarter when Griffin threw deep to WR Josh Morgan who fumbled the ball on the play, allowing the Patriots to recover at their 22-yard line. New England's James Morris forced the fumble.
That would be Griffin's last play of the game. He was 6 of 8 for 85 yards. Saints' rookie quarterback Garrett Grayson came in to the game for the first drive of the fourth quarter. He was 6 of 12 for 58 yards.
In the fourth quarter, Saints safety Pierre Warren intercepted a throw by Garappolo and returned it 33 yards to the New England 12-yard line. This led to a Saints drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Hopkins to give New Orleans the lead, 24-20.
The Saints had 8 penalties for 88 yards. New Orleans had 16 last week against the Ravens.
Though the Saints didn't score any rushing touchdowns, Mark Ingram led with 6 carries for 18 yards. He also had 3 catches for 45 yards.
The Saints offense had 428 total yards. They were 4 of 12 on third down conversions.
Veteran WR Marques Colston started after sitting out of last week's game against Baltimore. Four players from the Saints secondary were out tonight: Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner, Kenny Vaccaro and Jarius Byrd. The Saints starters, excluding Brees and Colston, continued playing into most of the second quarter.
No injuries were reported during the game for the Saints.
The Saints wrapped up training camp in West Virginia this week before heading back to New Orleans for Saturday night's game. On Wednesday, the Patriots joined the Saints at camp. Both teams held joint practices, scrimmaging together at the Greenbriar facility.
"I think [the week with New England] was beneficial for both teams," said Payton.
The Saints will now continue their training camp in Metairie. First practice will be Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and if weather permits, it will be open to the public.
New Orleans next preseason game is against the Houston Texans at 3 p.m. Sunday, August 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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Saints kicker Dustin Hopkins hits a 27-yard FG. (Saints 3, Patriots 0 - 9:55 1st Qtr)
Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes to TE Benjamin Watson for a 10-yard TD (Saints 9, Patriots 0 - 4:29 1st Qtr)
Brees passes to WR Brandin Cooks for 45-yard TD. (Saints 15, Patriots 0 - 1:50 1st Qtr)
Saints quarterback Luke McCown throws to TE Josh Hill for a 6-yard TD. (Saints 21, Patriots 0 - 1:45 2nd Qtr)
Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garappolo throws to Harper for 24-yard TD. (Saints 21, Patriots 7 - 0:14 2nd Qtr)
Patriots running back Dion Lewis rushed for an 11-yard TD. (Saints 21, Patriots 14 - 5:57 3rd Qtr)
Patriots running back James White rushed for a 3-yard TD. (Saints 21, Patriots 20 - 13:36 4th Qtr)
Saints' Hopkins kicks a 25-yard FG. (Saints 24, Patriots 20 - 8:46 4th Qtr)
Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski hits a 36-yard FG. (Saints 24, Patriots 23 - 3:21 4th)
Patriots' Gostkowski kicks a 35-yard FG. (Patriots 26, Saints 24 - 0:14 4th)