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Brady helps Patriots roll past Saints

NEW ORLEANS -Tom Brady threw for 302 of his 447 passing yards in a 30-point first-half explosion and the New England Patriots rebounded from a season-opening loss to Kansas City with a 36-20 rout of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brady completed only 16 of 36 passes in a 42-27 opening loss to the Chiefs, but he connected on 19 of 25 for 302 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone as New England (1-1) raced to a 30-13 lead and coasted to the win over the Saints, who fell to 0-2. Brady finished 30 of 39 for 447 yards.

It was the first time in Brady’s career — spanning 273 games, including the playoffs — that he threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter. He hit three different targets: running back Rex Burkhead for 19 yards, tight end Rob Gronkowski for 53 and wide receiver Chris Hogan for 13.

The Patriots finished with 555 yards in total offense and averaged 7.7 yards per play.
Gronkowski, who played just eight games last season because of injury and looked somewhat rusty with just two catches in the opener, caught six passes for 116 yards before exiting the game in the fourth quarter with a reported groin injury. He had a chance at another touchdown, but dropped a lob pass from Brady in the end zone at the end of the first half.

The Patriots rolled up 354 yards in total offense and 18 first downs in the half, and Brady was nearly perfect. The Patriots could have made it even more lopsided, but their final three scoring drives ended in field goals of 28, 24 and 27 yards by Stephen Gostkowski.

The Patriots scored on five of their first six possessions and punted only twice in the game.
Drew Brees (27 of 44 for 356 yards and two touchdowns) tried to keep the Saints close, connecting with Brandon Coleman on a 5-yard fade that began a 10-point comeback in the second quarter and cut New England’s lead to 20-13.

But the Patriots responded by scoring 10 points in the final 4:47 of the half and put the game away.
Trailing 27-13 with under three minutes left in the half, Saints head coach Sean Payton had such little faith in his defense that he gambled on fourth-and-3 from the New England 25, passing up a field-goal attempt. Brees’ deep fade for Ted Ginn Jr. fell incomplete.

NOTES:
The Patriots played without WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) and LB Dont’a Hightower (knee). … The Patriots are 43-6 following a loss since 2004. … The Saints dropped to 0-2, not a good omen for them. In their last three 7-9 seasons, in which they failed to make the playoffs, they started 0-2, 0-3 and 0-3. … CB Marshon Lattimore, the Saints’ No. 1 pick, was put under the concussion protocol after a fourth-quarter tackle. … RB James White had eight receptions for 85 yards and Brady picked apart the Saints underneath