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John DeShazier's Turning Point: Long TD pass to Rob Gronkowski

Saints almost sacked Brady but Patriots ended up with a TD

On the play-by-play for the game, it doesn't look like much more than a score.

Specifically, it reads thusly: T. Brady pass deep right to R. Gronkowski for 53 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Pass 17, YAC 36.

But for the Saints, it represented a significant setback in Sunday's home opener against New England in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Because it was a play in which the Saints not only failed to get off the field defensively, but also allowed a touchdown to push them into a 10-point deficit.

New England's second possession occurred after the Patriots led 6-3, and began at their own 25-yard line after a Saints field goal. Three plays gained 23 yards but on second-and-5 from the Patriots 48-yard line, defensive end Cam Jordancrashed through the offensive line to slam Pats running back Mike Gillislee for a 1-yard loss, bringing up third-and-6 from the 47.

With the Patriots in an obvious passing situation, the Saints applied pressure on New England quarterback Tom Brady. In fact, Brady appeared to get antsy in the pocket and jumped as he looked to pass.

His initial target was covered, so Brady came down and looked right, and saw tight end Rob Gronkowski. Without properly setting his feet, Brady off-balanced a pass toward the right sideline and as Gronkowski began to break for it, Saints rookie linebacker Alex Anzalonelost his footing.

Gronkowski hauled in the pass and trekked down the sideline, tracked by New Orleans rookie safety Marcus Williams. Williams lined up Gronkowski and went low, perhaps a wise move considering the size differential (Williams is listed at 6 feet 1, 195 pounds and Gronk checks in at 6-6, 265).

But New England's tight end stepped out of the ankle attempt and rumbled the final 10-15 yards to the end zone. The score and successful point-after gave the Patriots a 13-3 lead, and the Saints never managed to narrow the margin below seven points the rest of the game.

They didn't take advantage of the seconds of discomfort they caused Brady, and the result was that they allowed a touchdown.

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