FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson scored one against his former team right from the start ... or even before it.
For the second straight week Sunday, the Saints won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half and kick off to the New England Patriots. Watson, who played with the Patriots from 2004-09, was given the honor of calling the toss by quarterback Drew Brees.
Watson was filling in as an offensive captain for tackle Zach Strief, who had an ankle injury and was inactive.
After Watson won the toss, the Patriots marched down the field and kicked a field goal for a quick 3-0 lead.
Coming up empty
The Saints had to punt on their first possession, which was the first time since the season opener they failed to score on their opening series.
After punting on their first series against the Atlanta Falcons, the Saints offense opened the next four games by sandwiching two field goals around two touchdowns.
The Saints have a bye next weekend before returning to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for an Oct. 27 game with the Buffalo Bills.
With a 30-27 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, the Saints are 6-2 in the game before a regular-season bye since Sean Payton took over in 2006.
After not practicing all week because of an ankle injury, Strief was inactive for Sunday’s game.
Strief, who apparently was injured in last week’s game at the Chicago Bears, was listed Friday as questionable. He was replaced in the starting lineup by second-year pro Bryce Harris.
In addition to Strief, the Saints’ other inactives were wide receiver Lance Moore (hand), strong safety Roman Harper (knee), running back Mark Ingram (toe), defensive end Tyrunn Walker (knee), linebacker Martez Wilson (ankle) and cornerback Rod Sweeting.
Patriots inactives of note were tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm/back), defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (knee), receiver Matthew Slater (wrist) and running back Leon Washington (ankle).
Saints defensive Cameron Jordan injured his right leg in the fourth quarter but returned, as did tight end Jimmy Graham, who suffered a leg injury in the final period.
Patriots guard Dan Connolly left in the first half with a head injury, cornerback Aqib Talib was sidelined in the third quarter with a hip injury and receiver Danny Amendola left after taking a shot to the head in the third quarter.
Payton is 16-10 against AFC teams, losing for only the third time in his past 17 games. … Brees had his streak of games with at least 20 completions end at 57 when he finished with 17. … Graham had an NFL record-tying streak of four straight 100-yard games for a tight end snapped when he failed to catch a pass for the first time since Oct. 31, 2010. … The Saints have lost in their last three trips to Foxborough (2001, ’05, ’13) after three wins in a row here (1989, ’92, ’95). … The Patriots, who lost at Cincinnati last week, are 31-4 after a loss since 2003.