“They had a pretty good game plan for us offensively. We were able to find more rhythm in the second half and get back into the game. Anytime you are playing a team this good on the road, you have to make plays for 60 minutes, and we weren’t able to do that today.” MARQUES COLSTON Saints receiver who was held to one catch
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Expectations were high when the New Orleans Saints visited New England a week after quarterback Drew Brees found tight end Jimmy Graham 10 times for 135 yards.
But Brees and Graham failed to make any mark against the Patriots’ defense Sunday in a 30-27 loss.
In fact, the only time one of Brees’ passes intended for Graham was caught was when the Saints’ quarterback had a pass intercepted by Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington.
Graham didn’t catch any of the six passes Brees tossed to him, in part, because of Patriots’ cornerback Aqib Talib’s shutdown defense on the Saints’ tight end.
“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’re getting hands on receivers and tight ends. They’re very well coached, they’re disciplined. (Talib) was on (Graham) in their nickel packages. … But it’s the disruption at the line of scrimmage.”
The last time Graham went without a reception was on Oct. 31, 2010, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had gone 44 consecutive games with a reception before Sunday’s game.
It wasn’t just Graham who had trouble separating himself from defenders, though.
Brees also had difficulty finding the hands of receiver Marques Colston, who had one reception for 11 yards.
Before Sunday, Colston hadn’t been limited to one reception in a game since Oct. 2, 2011, against Jacksonville, when he caught one pass for 8 yards.
“They had a pretty good game plan for us offensively,” Colston said.
“We were able to find more rhythm in the second half and get back into the game. Anytime you are playing a team this good on the road, you have to make plays for 60 minutes, and we weren’t able to do that today.”
Like Payton, Colston thought that the Patriots played physically at the line of scrimmage, which disrupted the Saints’ receivers.
“They played a lot of bump-and-run,” Colston said. “They tried to alter timing on routes.
Brees believes the Saints had their chances to see out the game, particularly late in the game when one first down would have given the visitors a chance to ice the game.
But the Saints’ offense just wasn’t clicking.
“For us offensively, you sit there and rack your brain about, ‘Man, we just needed to get one first down so we could have put ourselves in a position to run out the clock,’” Brees said.
“Anytime you play a Bill Belichick defense and a team that’s playing a lot of man, those things, you understand that there are times when there’s not a lot of separation, and you know you might not have as efficient a day.”
Against New England, Brees threw for the least amount of yards he has all season (236) and completed a season-low 17 passes.
“We know every week there’s going to be a plan for Jimmy Graham,” Brees said. “We’ve got plenty of weapons and plenty of opportunities for everyone, but there were far too many three-and-outs, in the first half especially.
“When you can’t even get that first first down it was hard to get things going.”
Brees noted that these are times for the Saints’ young receivers to try to carry some of the load, when the regular weapons like Graham and Colston are shut down.
“These are just opportunities for guys like Ben Watson to have big days, and these young receivers to continue to develop,” Brees said.
But ultimately, the Saints’ offense couldn’t convert down the stretch after taking a 27-23 lead.
“You can’t give Tom Brady and that offense three chances at a two-minute drill,” Brees said.