NEW ORLEANS — Some notes and nuggets from the New England Patriots’ 36-20 beatdown of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday:
— Two young defensive players made key contributions for the Patriots.
Rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise was a pass-rushing force, finishing with one sack, five quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. And cornerback Jonathan Jones, who saw an uptick in playing time after Eric Rowe left the game with a groin injury, came through with two clutch pass breakups, including one that prevented a Saints touchdown.
“We’re big on the ‘next man up’ thing here,” safety Duron Harmon said. “And it’s for every position — from the quarterback to the corner. Jon Jones has been playing good ball all camp, and for him to go out there, I don’t think there was anybody more excited than me. Every time he made a play, I was over there.”
Jones, who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last year, is a core special teams player, but he rarely sees the field on defense. He played just 64 defensive snaps last season — 32 of which came in one game — and played a grand total of three in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Auburn product acquitted himself well Sunday, though. He slapped away a pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. in the end zone during the second quarter and later got his hand on a throw to Brandon Coleman that would have resulted in a big gain.
“I thought J. Jones did a great job,” safety Devin McCourty said. “When a guy goes down, and especially J. Jones — he’s not a guy that’s just on the sideline waiting. He’s one of our top kickoff guys, punt — he’s on everything. And to step in and play the nickel and still do everything on special teams, he made a lot of big plays.”
— Former Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks played only a supporting role in his return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, catching just two passes on four targets for 37 yards and carrying the ball twice for 6 yards.
After the game, a reporter asked Patriots coach Bill Belichick if his team was intentionally trying to limit Cooks — an odd question that elicited a classic Belichick response.
“We came down here to try to win,” the coach said. “That’s what we came down here for. I’m not really concerned about the stats. I know everyone else is, but we came down here to win. So it was a good trip.”
— The Superdome was packed with Patriots fans, who serenading quarterback Tom Brady with several “Brady, Brady” chants as the fourth quarter wound down.
“That was good,” Brady said after the game. “Hopefully they are all on Bourbon Street. It is a good road game to come to. I heard them. There (were) a lot spread out on that first level. It was great to see that support. We’ve had that at different places, and it was fun. … It was a great way to end the game.”
— Only two of the 46 active Patriots players did not see the field Sunday. One was backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The other? Linebacker David Harris, who’s played a grand total of two snaps over his first two games as a Patriot.
(UPDATE: The initial postgame report was incorrect. Harris actually played one snap for the Patriots.)
— Rob Ninkovich was in the house to watch two of his former teams square off.
Ninkovich, who retired this summer, was drafted by the Saints in 2006 but didn’t become a defensive starter until after he signed with the Patriots in 2009.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images