The Patriots lead 17-7 against the Saints at halftime in New England and a big reason why is their ability to do what no other team has managed this season.
They’ve shut out tight end Jimmy Graham. With cornerback Aqib Talib leading the effort against the Saints superstar, the Patriots have kept Graham from picking up so much as a single catch through the first 30 minutes of the game. As a result, the Saints offense has picked up just 130 yards thus far and the Patriots have a two-score lead heading into the second half.
Drew Brees is clearly frustrated and has tried to force the ball to Graham a couple of times and was nearly picked off on one throw into heavy coverage. He’s just 9-of-19 overall, numbers that will never do good things for New Orleans’ chances of winning.
Things have also gone a lot better offensively than they did in Cincinnati last week. Tom Brady has completed 16-of-22 passes for 163 yards and Stevan Ridley has run for 61 yards and two touchdowns to pace things on that side of the ball. The Saints have racked up four sacks of Brady, but the never described as nimble quarterback has been able to avoid the rush and make plays a few other times in the first half.