NEW ORLEANS — Jimmy Garoppolo’s marked improvement has been a major plus this summer, while Tom Brady’s brilliance in training camp has yet to translate to the field during his limited action in a pair of preseason games.

Garoppolo led the Patriots to a 26-24 victory against the Saints on Saturday night at the Superdome by completing 28 of 33 passes for 269 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cap a three-touchdown comeback.

“Jimmy is going out there playing good football,” said wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who had eight catches for 68 yards. “He’s in the huddle as a leader. We rally behind him and want to help him win.”

Garoppolo started the uphill climb with a five-play, 80-yard drive in 54 seconds before halftime, and the march was punctuated when the second-year quarterback spun out of Bobby Richardson’s sack, kept his head downfield and fired a rocket to Chris Harper for a 24-yard touchdown. It cut the Saints’ lead to 21-7 with 14 seconds left in the half.

“That was a good momentum swing into the half, that’s for sure,” Garoppolo said. “Being down 21-0 is never a good thing. Getting the touchdown before the half on a little bit of a scramble play, it really helped us.”

On the Pats’ first drive of the third quarter, which ended on an 11-yard TD run by Dion Lewis, Garoppolo completed passes on two third downs and a fourth down to keep the offense on the field.

Garoppolo was even more efficient on a third consecutive TD drive, as he completed all seven pass attempts for 73 yards, including a 14-yarder to Jonathan Krause on third-and-11, and James White’s 3-yard touchdown run trimmed the margin to 21-20. Garoppolo’s two-point conversion pass to Krause fell incomplete.

Garoppolo was intercepted by Pierre Warren on the first play of the next drive with an ill-advised deep ball to Gibson, but the Saints settled for a 21-yard field goal, which made it 24-20 with 8:40 to play.

Garoppolo responded nicely, completing 7 of 8 passes for 62 yards the rest of the way, including a 22-yard strike to Krause to set up Gostkowski’s game-winner.

“Obviously, after an interception, you always want to get it back as fast as you can,” Garoppolo said. “You hope the defense does a great job like they did. You’ve got to forget about it quickly. That’s part of being a quarterback, a short memory.”

The 38-year-old Brady was 2 of 5 for 13 yards in three series as New England fell behind 21-0. All three incompletions came on third down. Brady has led the offense to only one first down in five preseason series, and he is 3 of 9 for 23 yards. He completed 46 of 56 passes against the Saints in two joint practices and connected on 77.5 percent of his throws in 16 training-camp sessions.

Of course, he hasn’t taken a single preseason snap with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler plus wide receivers Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Aaron Dobson. Through two games, it’s possible Danny Amendola is the only receiver to share the field with Brady who might make the 53-man roster out of camp.

NOTES: Former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was in Foxborough to take a physical for the Patriots, according to an ESPN.com report.

The 36-year-old Wayne was released by the Colts after 14 seasons.

Wayne, a six-time Pro Bowler, had 64 receptions for 779 yards and two touchdowns last season while dealing with elbow and triceps injuries.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.