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NEW ORLEANS — Take pity on the New Orleans Saints.
Facing Tom Brady is no easy task in the best of situations. And Sunday’s game is far from that.
The Saints have been one of the NFL’s worst defenses for several years now, and an off-season overhaul doesn’t seem to have helped much. They were gashed by Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night for 470 yards, with Bradford completing all but five of his 32 passes for three touchdowns and no turnovers.
The Vikings were nine-of-14 on third down, including Kyle Rudolph’s 15-yard scoring catch.
Now comes Brady. A mad Brady, at that.
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Brady’s had 10 days to stew about the New England Patriots’ shellacking by the Kansas City Chiefs in the season kickoff, a loss so ugly it had him criticizing the team’s attitude after.
“We had it handed to us on our own field. It’s a terrible feeling,” Brady said after the 42-27 loss.
“The only people that can do something about it are in that locker room. We’ve got to dig a lot deeper than that. We didn’t dig very deep tonight.”
Himself included. Brady was just 16-of-36 for 267 yards, and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He was sacked three times in the Patriots’ last two possessions.
Of course Brady having just turned 40, there were some who wondered if this was the start of the decline. As if he’d somehow stumbled off a cliff the night before his birthday.
Please. He’s still Tom Brady and these are still the Patriots.
Going back to 2003, the Patriots are 42-7 after a regular-season loss, with many of those wins coming by wide margins. Remember New England’s last loss to the Chiefs, in Week 4 of 2014? That was supposed to be the beginning of the end, too, and look how that turned out.
A rout of the Cincinnati Bengals the following week and the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title at the end of the season, for those whose memories are a little fuzzy.
Brady and the Patriots are going to be just fine. An afternoon with the Saints’ defense is all they need to cure what ails — and irks — them.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.