FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady still has that comeback touch.
Coming off one of his worst games, he threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins with 5 seconds left, giving the New England Patriots a wild 30-27 win and knocking the New Orleans Saints from the unbeaten ranks Sunday.
It capped a 70-yard drive with no timeouts after getting the ball with 1:08 to go. It was the 37th game in which Brady led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.
The Saints (5-1) had taken a 24-23 lead with 3:29 remaining on Drew Brees’ 34-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, but couldn’t put away New England.
The Patriots (5-1) survived an interception by Keenan Lewis on their first snap after Garrett Hartley’s 39-yard field goal made it 27-23.
Brady started the winning drive with completions of 23 yards to Julian Edelman, 15 to Austin Collie and 6 to Aaron Dobson. But he threw two incompletions before connecting with Collie for a 9-yard gain on fourth down and a first down at the 17.
That’s when Brady found Thompkins for the winning touchdown in the left side of the end zone.
New England continued the strong defense it’s played all year by holding star tight end Jimmy Graham without a catch for the first time in 46 games, dating back to the middle of his rookie season in 2010. He limped off the field after Kyle Arrington intercepted a pass intended for him, but returned.
The Patriots were headed for their second straight loss one week after the Cincinnati Bengals beat them 13-6. Brady’s streak of 52 regular-season games with at least one touchdown pass ended in that defeat; Brees holds the NFL record with 54.
New England improved on offense with Stevan Ridley running for two touchdowns for a 17-7 halftime lead.
In the first half, the Patriots controlled the ball against New Orleans, which entered the game leading the NFL in time of possession. The Patriots scored on drives of 80, 66 and 60 yards one week after having just one drive of more than 35 yards in Cincinnati.
The Saints trailed by 10 points at halftime, but tied it by scoring on their first two possessions of the second half: a 28-yard field goal by Hartley and a 3-yard run by Khiry Robinson.
New England took a 3-0 lead on Stephen Gostkowski’s 35-yard field goal on the first series of the game. New Orleans took its first lead on Brees’ 3-yard pass to Travaris Cadet, the first run or reception of the season by the running back.
Then Ridley scored twice in a span of six minutes in the second quarter on runs of 1 and 4 yards. On the second touchdown drive, Brady completed his last six passes for 64 yards.
Patriots’ last drive
With Gillette Stadium nearly half-empty, the fans figuring the New England Patriots had thrown away their last chance, Tom Brady delivered a drive to savor Sunday.
Taking over at his 30 with 73 seconds remaining, no timeouts left and the Patriots trailing the unbeaten New Orleans Saints 27-23, here is how a vintage Brady rallied his team to a 30-27 win:
— First-and-10 at Patriots 30, 1:13 left — Brady gets New England moving, hits Julian Edelman deep over the middle for 23 yards.
— First-and-10 at Saints 47, :53 — Brady and the Patriots hurry to the line, he throws over the middle to Austin Collie for 15 yards.
— First-and-10 at Saints 32, :39 — Brady knows he has time, is confident to work inside, completes to Aaron Dobson for 6 yards.
— Second-and-4 at Saints 26, :35 — Brady throws incomplete deep down the middle to Edelman. The miss gives New England a moment to regroup.
— Third-and-4 at Saints 26, :30 — Brady again looks for Edelman, but the veteran receiver drops the ball inside the 5. Now the Patriots are down to a final chance to keep the drive going.
— Fourth-and-4 at Saints 26, :24 — Brady comes through, hits Collie on the left side for 9 yards. The Saints tackle him inbounds, the clock keeps running.
— First-and-10 at Saints 17, :11 — Brady quickly puts the Patriots in position and spikes the ball, stopping the clock.
— Second-and-10 at Saints 17, :10 — Brady looks every bit a three-time Super Bowl champion, hitting rookie Kenbrell Thompkins high over the outstretched arms of defensive back Jabari Greer in the left corner of the end zone with 5 seconds left.
It is Brady’s 342nd career TD pass and the 37th time he’s led the Patriots to victory from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.