Maroney’s TD gives Patriots 7-3 lead after 1st quarter

Monday, November 30, 2009

Patriots lead 7-3 after 1st quarter

NEW ORLEANS — Laurence Maroney’s fourth-down touchdown run gave the New England Patriots a 7-3 lead over the New Orleans Saints at the end of the first quarter on Monday night.

It was the second time in three weeks that the Patriots were playing an undefeated team on the road, having lost to Indianapolis on a late Peyton Manning touchdown pass.

New England, the only team to go 16-0 in NFL history, was trying to stop the Saints from joining the Colts at 11-0. The NFL has never had a season with two 11-0 teams.

After John Carney kicked a 30-yard field goal, the Patriots drove 80 yards on 14 plays on their opening possession, with Maroney carrying eight times for 39 yards.

Sammy Morris converted a fourth-and-1 with a 3-yard run to the Saints 33 after wide receiver Randy Moss dropped a third-down pass.

Maroney capped the more than 7-minute drive with a 4-yard run as coach Bill Belichick went for it on another fourth down.

New England quarterback Tom Brady had 33 yards passing on the drive.

The Saints scored on their opening drive for the seventh time this season. Drew Brees hit Devery Henderson down the sideline for a 33-yard gain on the first play, leading to a 30-yard field goal by Carney that bounced off the left upright. New England safety Brandon Meriweather was in position for an interception at the goal line on second down, but cornerback Leigh Bodden inadvertently knocked him off the ball.

New England missed a chance to extend its lead after Wes Welker’s 41-yard punt return to the New Orleans 46. On the next play, Mike McKenzie, playing for the first time since breaking his right kneecap on Nov. 9, 2008, intercepted Brady’s short pass over the middle. It was the Saints’ 21st interception of the season.

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