Toughest test to date: Saints face Patriots, who are coming off loss

Toughest test to date: Saints face Patriots, who are coming off loss

(Right) Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with head coach Bill Belichick against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) ; Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints talks with head coach Sean Payton in a game against the Chicago Bears on October 6, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 13, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 14 at 6:21 AM

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It’s not like the Saints needed any more reason to be focused heading into today’s game at New England.

But to see that the Patriots had last to Cincinnati, and that Tom Brady had his string of consecutive games with a touchdown pass snapped at 52 games, two short of Drew Brees’ NFL record?

Well, that just ratchets up the need to stay on point.

After all, since 2003, the Patriots are 28-5 following a loss, playoffs included.

“We know what their record is coming off a loss,” hybrid end/linebacker Junior Galette said. “They rarely lose and it’s tough in Foxborough. We know it’s going to be a tough game. It’s not going to be an easy game.”

What makes the Patriots so difficult, though, is Brady, who has won three Super Bowls and led New England to two others, and his understanding and relationship with coach Bill Belichick.

The same could be said for the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees’ relationship with coach Sean Payton.

Rob Ninkovich, an integral part of the Patriots defense who originally was drafted by New Orleans, sees it.

“I think there’s great a great amount of respect on both sides, respect and trust to know that they are going to go out there and really do everything they can to help their team win,” Ninkovich said.

In many way, Brees and Brady are two of the best in NFL history at what they do.

Brady’s quarterback rating of 96.6 heading into 2013 was third-best in NFL history, as was his 117.2 rating in 2007. Brees owns the NFL record for single-season completion percentage at 71.23 in 2011 along with a bevy of others.

But they’re tied closest in yards passing in a season, a record Brees owns with 5,476 yards, 241 more than Brady.

“They are different in a lot of ways and yet they are competitive and guys that know how to win,” Payton said.

Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows just how competitive Brady is having coached in New England from 2000-03, the quarterback’s first four years in the league.

Ryan may need the off week more than other coach thanks to Brady.

“I’m exhausted right now, and I think every coach on defense and probably the whole team, we’re exhausted,” Ryan said. “We’re trying to do our best job. They know we look at every situation from what we learned from them, is go back the entire season and then some. And I went back in the red zone, they had 259 snaps, and it was a lot of damn work.

“But I mean it’s everybody.  We’re trying to do our best to be prepared. And it’s very difficult against this team.”

Brady has passed for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns this season while throwing only three interceptions. He has completed passes to 11 different players.

 

Brady or not, New Orleans will face its toughest test to date today. The Saints know what they’re up against.

“They are coming off a tough loss and we are going to have to play one of our best football games,” Payton said. “I think our players see that and they understand that.”

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