Until rookie Kenbrell Thompkins hauled in that improbable pass in the back of the end zone with two seconds to go to give the Patriots a 30-27 lead over the Saints, it looked like quarterback Tom Brady was destined for another mediocre afternoon.
“We had everybody going in the end zone and he kind of snuck into the corner and I put it up there for him,” Brady said of Thompkins (via ESPNBoston.com). “He came down and made a great catch.”
“It was just a deep ball, zone coverage, the DB [Jabari Greer] ended up letting me get behind him and I just went up there and made a play,” said Thompkins, who pumped his right fist in the air repeatedly in celebration.
“Just awesome. Perfect textbook catch, the timing, getting his feet in,” tight end Michael Hoomanawanui added. “He just made an unreal play but it’s nothing new to us. We see that kind of stuff every day from him. It was just awesome to see it in that situation at the end of the game, and let the fans see it.”
Even the usually laconic Bill Belichick addressed the media with a joke after the game.
"Sorry if you have to rewrite some your stories there at the end," he began. "What a football game," Belichick added. "That took about five years off my life."
Until the final, fateful play, Brady, the future Hall of Famer, had completed just 57 percent of his passes, and looked off, until Thompkins completely changed the narrative. Consider the last two drives before Thompkins' game-winning grab. Brady misfired on fourth and 6 giving the ball back to the Saints, and a series later, Brady threw an interception on the very first play. But no one remembers that now because the Pats left Gillette Stadium winners. And in a league where "winning ugly" is sometimes a mantra, that's all that matters.
"When the game is on the line, you see what guys are made of," Brady said. "And all those guys at the receiver position made some huge plays on that last drive."
Belichick added: "We're trying to find a way for the 2013 team to win. Whatever that is -- offense, defense, special teams -- whatever those 45 guys can do, that's what we're trying to do. We're not trying to be anything other than that."
Next up: The Patriots travel to New Jersey to face the Jets, a team they struggled to beat 13-10 back in Week 2.