FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Too bad all those Patriots fans who left Gillette Stadium in disgust when their team was down didn't wait a minute.
Because that was all Tom Brady needed.
Fans remaining in a half-empty stadium roared when the two-time NFL MVP threw the winning touchdown with 5 seconds left. They didn't beat the traffic Sunday but saw the Patriots beat the Saints, 30-27.
Coming off one of his worst games in a loss to Cincinnati, Brady threw the decisive 17-yard pass to rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, knocking New Orleans from the unbeaten ranks.
"Guys made big-time catches," Brady said. "It was just a great game."
Slowly but steadily, new pass catchers have emerged after the Patriots lost their top five receivers from last season's highest-scoring team. Now it's Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Austin Collie.
"I have confidence in those guys," Brady said. "We're certainly not perfect out there. We're definitely just grinding."
The Saints led 24-23 with 3:29 left after Drew Brees' 34-yard touchdown to Kenny Stills and the extra point. But the Patriots survived an interception by Keenan Lewis on their first snap after Garrett Hartley's 39-yard field goal made it 27-23.
Brady started the winning 70-yard drive, with no timeouts, with completions of 23 yards to Julian Edelman, 15 to Collie and 6 to Dobson for a first down at the Saints 26. Later he hit Collie for a 9-yard gain to convert on fourth down.
On the winner, Thompkins outfought cornerback Saints Jabari Greer in the left side of the end zone.
"That's something that you'll replay in your mind for a long time," Greer said. "We fought hard, we're resilient, and it happens like that. For it to happen to me, I'll just have to bear the burden for this week."