Brady passes for last-minute touchdown as Patriots hand Saints first loss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Too bad all those Patriots fans who left Gillette Stadium in disgust when their team was down didn't

wait a minute.

Because that's all Tom Brady needed.

Fans left in a half-empty stadium roared when the two-time NFL MVP threw the winning touchdown pass with 5 seconds left. They

beat the traffic while the Patriots were beating the Saints, 30-27.

Coming off one of his worst games, Brady threw the decisive 17-yard pass to rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, knocking

New Orleans from the unbeaten ranks Sunday.

"Guys made big-time catches," Brady said. "It was just a great game."

Slowly but steadily, new pass catchers have made their mark after the Patriots lost their top five receivers from last season's

highest-scoring NFL team. Now he's throwing to Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Austin Collie.

"I have confidence in those guys," Brady said. "We're certainly not perfect out there. We're definitely just grinding."

Many fans had abandoned hope and left

Gillette Stadium by the time the Patriots it out. But at Fenway Park,

some 30 miles

away, a big cheer went up at Game 2 of the AL championship series

between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers when Thompkins

jumped for the winning pass.

"Coach Bill said that it might come down to the final seconds," Thompkins said. "You had to stick with the system. We just

had to go out there and fight to the finish."

The Saints (5-1) had taken a 24-23 lead with 3:29 remaining on Drew Brees' 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills and the

extra point, but couldn't put away New England.

The Patriots (5-1) survived an interception by Keenan Lewis on their first snap after Garrett Hartley's 39-yard field goal

made it 27-23.

Brady started the winning 70-yard drive,

with no timeouts, with completions of 23 yards to Julian Edelman, 15 to

Collie and

6 to Dobson for a first down at the Saints 26. But he threw two

incompletions before connecting with Collie for a 9-yard gain

on fourth down and a first down at the 17.

He spiked the ball to stop the clock, then sent his receivers deep.

"We had everybody going to the end zone and (Thompkins) kind of snuck into the corner and I put it up there for him and he

came down and made a great catch," Brady said.

Thompkins outfought cornerback Jabari Greer in the left side of the end zone.

"That's something that you'll replay in your mind for a long time," Greer said. "We fought hard, we're resilient, and it happens

like that. For it to happen to me, I'll just have to bear the burden for this week."

The Patriots were headed for their second straight loss one week after the Cincinnati Bengals beat them 13-6. Brady's streak

of 52 regular-season games with at least one touchdown pass ended in that defeat; Brees holds the NFL record with 54.

Brady completed 25 of 43 passes for 269

yards with one touchdown and one interception. It was the 38th time he'd

led the Patriots

to victory after trailing or being tied in the fourth quarter. One

week earlier, he was just 18 for 38 for 197 yards and a

passer rating of 52.2

New England continued the strong defense

it's played all year by holding star tight end Jimmy Graham without a

catch for the

first time in 46 games, dating back to the middle of his rookie

season in 2010. He limped off the field after Kyle Arrington

intercepted a pass intended for him, but returned.

"The one thing they do a good job with is they disrupt you at the line of scrimmage really better than anyone," Saints coach

Sean Payton said. "They do a really good job of getting hands on receivers and tight ends."

Add Brees: "This one's difficult because you certainly felt like you had a chance.

Breed completed 17 of 36 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Stevan Ridley ran for two touchdowns for a 17-7 halftime lead.

In the first half, the Patriots controlled

the ball against New Orleans, which entered the game leading the NFL in

time of

possession. The Patriots scored on drives of 80, 66 and 60 yards

one week after having just one drive of more than 35 yards

in Cincinnati.

The Saints tied it by scoring on their first two possessions of the second half: a 28-yard field goal by Hartley and a 3-yard

run by Khiry Robinson.

New England took a 3-0 lead on Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal on the first series of the game. New Orleans took its

first lead on Brees' 3-yard pass to Travaris Cadet, the first run or reception of the season by the running back.

Then Ridley scored twice in a span of six minutes in the second quarter on runs of 1 and 4 yards. On the second touchdown

drive, Brady completed his last six passes for 64 yards.

But he saved his best for last.

"What more can you ask out of your leader?" Ridley said. "He put the team on his back and went out there and made the plays

we needed to make."

NOTES: Collie, signed before the Bengals game, made his first two catches for the Patriots on the final drive. ... The Saints

held the ball for 28:09, more than six minutes less than their season average. ... Patriots CB Aqib Talib, who helped shut

down Graham, didn't return after hurting his hip in the third quarter.

Brady's epic game-winning drive

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — With Gillette Stadium nearly half-empty, the fans figuring the New England Patriots had thrown away

their last chance, Tom Brady delivered a drive to savor Sunday.

Taking over at his 30 with 73 seconds remaining, no timeouts left and the Patriots trailing the unbeaten New Orleans Saints

27-23, here is how a vintage Brady rallied his team to a 30-27 win:

First-and-10 at Patriots 30, 1:13 left — Brady gets New England moving, hits Julian Edelman deep over the middle for 23

yards.

First-and-10 at Saints 47, :53 — Brady and the Patriots hurry to the line, he throws over the middle to Austin Collie for

15 yards.

First-and-10 at Saints 32, :39 — Brady knows he has time, is confident to work inside, completes to Aaron Dobson for 6 yards.

Second-and-4 at Saints 26, :35 — Brady throws incomplete deep down the middle to Edelman. The miss gives New England a moment

to regroup.

Third-and-4 at Saints 26, :30 — Brady again looks for Edelman, but the veteran receiver drops the ball inside the 5. Now

the Patriots are down to a final chance to keep the drive going.

Fourth-and-4 at Saints 26, :24 — Brady

comes through, hits Collie on the left side for 9 yards. The Saints

tackle him inbounds,

the clock keeps running.

First-and-10 at Saints 17, :11 — Brady quickly puts the Patriots in position and spikes the ball, stopping the clock.

Second-and-10 at Saints 17, :10 — Brady looks every bit a three-time Super Bowl champion, hitting rookie Kenbrell Thompkins

high over the outstretched arms of defensive back Jabari Greer in the left corner of the end zone with 5 seconds left.

It is Brady's 342nd career TD pass and the 37th time he's led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.