Pats convert twice on fourth down for TD

NEW ORLEANS -- There's a sign in the back of the end zone the New England Patriots are trying to enter in the first quarter.




Twice on the Patriots' opening drive, Bill Belichick did. Twice the Patriots converted, including the final 4 yards for a touchdown to give them a 7-3 lead over the New Orleans Saints.

The Patriots went 80 yards on 14 plays. The impressive, methodical drive lasted 7 minutes, 40 seconds.

Belichick evoked memories of Indianapolis, where he went for it on fourth down from his own 28-yard line in the final moments against the Colts. The Patriots failed to gain the first down, and Peyton Manning beat them with a touchdown strike a few plays later.

On Monday night, Belichick opted not kick on fourth-and-1 from the Saints' 36-yard line. That would have been a 53-yard attempt for Stephen Gostkowski, and as Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com noted, Gostkowski made a 53-yarder in pregame warmups.

Sammy Morris picked up the first down with a 3-yard run up the middle.

Five plays later, the Patriots had a fourth-and-1 situation from the Saints' 4-yard line. Laurence Maroney took it in for the score.

The Superdome fell silent.