NEW ORLEANS Forty-year-old quarterback Tom Brady is not over the hill.
And the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots still resemble kings of the hill.
Each early appraisal rang true Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the Patriots rebounded from a shocking season-opening loss with a wire-to-wire 36-20 victory against the defense-challenged Saints.
Brady was masterful, completing 30 of 39 passes for 447 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a sparkling 139.6 passer rating. All three scoring passes came in the first quarter, quite surprisingly a first for Brady in 273 career games.
Then again, Brady probably hasn’t faced the kind of defense the Saints put on the field Sunday and first two weeks of the season.
▪ In Week 1, at Minnesota on Monday Night Football, the Saints yielded 29 points and 470 yards (384 through the air) in a 29-19 loss.
▪ Six days later, the Saints surrendered 36 points and 555 yards (447 through the air) to the Patriots.
The Saints now have allowed 831 passing yards. six passing touchdowns, three sacks, zero INTs and a gaudy 141.4 passer rating through eight quarters.
Whereas Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford simply played his best, Brady played like the five-time Super Bowl champion that he is under coach Bill Belichick, outplaying Saints quarterback Drew Brees in every sense.
“There are not going to be a lot of things that we like when we watch this tape,’’ Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We’ve got to get better, and not just on defense. We’ve got to be better offensively.
“Obviously, we did not do enough good things today to give us a chance.’’
Consequently, the Saints find themselves 0-2 for the fourth consecutive season under Payton, typically a death knell in the NFL. Since 1990, 88 percent of teams that start 0-2 have not advanced to the postseason.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the Saints.
Next Sunday, they face the Carolina Panthers (2-0), quarterback Cam Newton and a stellar defense at Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. From there, they will jet across the pond to tackle the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 at London’s Wembley Stadium.
“There’s disappointment and yet we’ve got the right type of locker room,’’ Payton said. “But we’re going to have to respond quickly. We’ll find out a little about what we’re made of.’’
After two weeks, the answer is not much.
Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at email@example.com.