The Superdome in New Orleans was the site of one of the New England Patriots’ greatest triumphs: their upset win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
It also played host to one of the worst losses of the Bill Belichick era.
As the Patriots prepare to visit the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, let’s revisit what transpired the last time they visited the Big Easy for a regular-season game.
The year was 2009, and the Patriots were in the midst of an uncharacteristically dysfunctional season that would end in a blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Saints, meanwhile, began the season 10-0 and imposed their will on the visiting Pats in Week 12, rolling to a 38-17 win on “Monday Night Football.”
Drew Brees, who would lead the Saints to their first Super Bowl title two months later, threw five touchdown passes with zero interceptions. Tom Brady was far less effective, tossing two picks and zero touchdowns before being benched in favor of Brian Hoyer in the fourth quarter.
The 21-point loss was tied for the seventh-largest of Belichick’s Patriots tenure. The Pats only have lost by more once in the eight years since: the 41-14 tail-whooping the Kansas City Chiefs subjected them to in 2014.
It was a disaster in every sense of the word. And Belichick was mic’d up for all of it.
NFL Films cameras followed the Patriots head coach throughout the 2009 campaign for his edition of “A Football Life,” affording fans access to Belichick’s operation never seen before or since.
One of the most enlightening scenes of the nearly 90-minute documentary is a conversation between Belichick and Brady that takes place as time winds down in that loss to the Saints.
Belichick: “Boy, I’ll tell you, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a long way to go. I’m telling you. We just have no mental toughness. We go on the road, and we have no mental toughness. We can’t play the game the way we need to play it.
Brady: “You said it.”
Belichick: “It’s not them, either. It’s totally us. It’s just totally us. We’re going to have to find a way here to be a tougher team when we get on the road.”
Brady: “Yep. They kicked our ass.”
Belichick: “They sure did. I just can’t get this team to play the way we need to play. I just can’t do it. It’s so (expletive) frustrating.”
Brady: “We do it in spurts. We just don’t do it for four quarters.”
Belichick: “No. And the tougher it gets, the less likely we are to do it.”
Several Patriots players expressed similar sentiments after last Thursday’s 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium — a game in which Kansas City scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
New England will look to notch its first victory of the season against a New Orleans team that lost to the Minnesota Vikings 29-19 on Monday in its regular-season opener.
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