Patriots Turn Game Over to Saints, 28-24
Good things came in threes for the New Orleans Saints.
They turned three New England turnovers in three minutes into three second-quarter touchdowns and then withstood the Patriots’ two-touchdown burst in the final four minutes to win, 28-24, Sunday.
“The turnovers were the key,” New Orleans Coach Jim Mora said. “They got us quick points and, most importantly, it took them out of their running game.”
Dalton Hilliard ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints (5-5) grabbed a 28-0 lead 5:06 into the second quarter and beat the Patriots (3-7) despite being dominated in the statistics.
New England led in first downs, 28-14, and total yardage, 354-211, as Steve Grogan passed for 283 yards compared with 101 for the Saints’ Bobby Hebert.
But Grogan, who completed 27 of a career-high 59 passes, said: “I didn’t play well for three quarters. There’s no secret about that. I hurried some throws and I was confused by some of their defensive looks.”
Hilliard’s three-yard scoring run with 1:43 left in the first quarter began a seven-minute stretch in which New Orleans scored four touchdowns, three of them following Patriot turnovers in a span of 2:31.
“It’s only the middle of November, but it was Christmas today,” Patriot Coach Raymond Berry said. “We gave them three gifts.”
The scores came on Hebert’s one-yard pass to Hoby Brenner, Brett Maxie’s 26-yard interception return and Hilliard’s 10-yard run.
“For 10 games, he’s been steady, dependable, tough,” Mora said of Hilliard, who is tied with San Francisco’s Jerry Rice for the NFL lead with 13 touchdowns. “I was proud of the offensive line, but I wish we’d have been able to grind out more first downs.”
The Patriots cut the lead to 28-10 at halftime on Robert Perryman’s one-yard run and Jason Staurovsky’s 44-yard field goal.
In the last 3:17 of the game, the Patriots scored on Grogan’s 13-yard pass to Hart Lee Dykes and Perryman’s three-yard run with 1:14 left, but they never got the ball back.
“Crazy things can happen and I was just pleased to get out of here with a win,” Mora said.