NFL.com wire reports
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Aug. 18, 2005) -- Tom Brady
got off to a rough start. The rest of the Super Bowl champions didn't finish
up too well.
After throwing an interception on his first play of the preseason, Brady
led the Patriots on two consecutive scoring
drives, and Doug Flutie converted two
more TDs on Thursday night before the New Orleans
Saints rallied against the New England subs for a 37-27 preseason
"I certainly would have liked to play a lot better," said Brady, who sat
out last week's exhibition opener. "When you start the game with an
interception, that really sets the tone for the whole day. From my
standpoint I need to play a lot better."
The two-time defending NFL champs led 27-16 with 5:43 left in the third
quarter before Aaron Brooks hit Devery Henderson on a 34-yard touchdown pass, then missed on the
2-point conversion to leave it 27-22.
Saints backup Todd Bouman hit Michael Lewis for 15 yards on a fourth-and-2 just before the
two-minute warning. After an incompletion, Bouman threw to Nate Poole, who lunged for the end zone to break the plane as a
defender grabbed his foot to pull him back.
With the Patriots at their own 14, L.P. Ladouceur
hit Matt Cassel and forced a fumble that was
scooped up by Jimmy Verdon and brought
into the end zone for an insurance score.
"We really wanted to come in here and get a win, regardless of what unit
was in the game," said Saints safety Dwight Smith, who picked Brady off
on the first play from scrimmage. "They scored in the end to make up for
the mistakes we made earlier on defense."
Nate Poole's leap into the end zone proved to be the game-winning score for the Saints.
Brady, who didn't play in a 23-13 win over Cincinnati, was 6-for-11 for
105 yards and one interception before giving way to Flutie with 6:32
left in the first half. Flutie converted two touchdowns on his first
three plays in a much-anticipated return to New England, where he won
the Heisman Trophy for Boston College and spent four seasons with the
Patriots during his well-traveled pro career.
"It was exciting," said Flutie, who completed 3 of 4 passes for 52 yards
and a touchdown. "It's fun for me to be out there with the young guys,
see the look in their eyes, too."
Brooks played three quarters for the Saints and went 14-for-23 for 158
yards, one touchdown and one interception. Deuce
McAllister, who had a costly fumble on the third play of New
Orleans' 34-15 loss to Seattle last week, carried 20 times for 88 yards.
Brady and Flutie both sat out the preseason opener while the Patriots
held tryouts for the No. 3 job between rookie Cassel and Rohan Davey, who's in his fourth year. Brady, who went an NFL-record
162 pass attempts without an interception to start his career, threw
behind tight end Ben Watson on a 15-yard
out pattern and Smith stepped in front of the ball to set up John Carney's 23-yard field goal.
But the two-time Super Bowl MVP responded on the next possession,
hitting Tim Dwight on a 45-yard pass to
the Saints 12. Patrick Pass, playing
because Corey Dillon missed practice all
week to be with his wife during childbirth, ran it in from the 2.
After New Orleans punted, Brady led the Patriots to the Saints 5 before Adam Vinatieri's field goal made it 10-3. McAllister ran three
straight times for 26 yards to start a 75-yard drive that ended on Mike Karney's 1-yard run to make it 10-all.
Josh Miller's punt pinned the Saints at the 3, but Brooks drove
them to the 20 before throwing a pass that bounced off receiver Joe Horn and defender Chad Scott into Rodney Harrison's hands. He carried it to the 3, and Kyle Eckel brought it in from there to make it 17-10.
The crowd, still admiring Harrison's interception, didn't notice that
Flutie had replaced Brady in the game. But the 42-year-old hometown
favorite drew a big cheer when he was announced for the next series.
Flutie responded by hitting Dwight for 12 yards on the first play and
then, on the next play, connecting with a well-covered Jason Anderson in the front corner of the end zone to make it 24-13.
It had been 17 years since Flutie threw a touchdown pass in Foxborough
wearing a Patriots uniform; his last appearance here for New England was
in Foxboro Stadium against the Houston Oilers on Dec. 3, 1989.
"It's unique," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He's like a little
kid, running around out there. He's got a lot of energy. In competitive
situations, that flows over to other players. It's not the most orthodox
way of playing, but he's productive."
Flutie was in for just nine plays over three series that resulted in two
touchdowns and a field goal. Cassel, who was hailed after leading New
England to victory in his pro debut, was 7 of 11 for 69 yards, but he
was sacked three times; Davey didn't play.
"That's the way we expected it to go," Belichick said.
Pass ran 11 times for 88 yards, breaking free for 49 yards on New
England's first possession of the second half. That helped set up
Vinatieri's 32-yard field goal to make it 27-16.
Bouman was 6 for 12 for 79 yards.