What it means: A stunner. Playing without tight end Rob Gronkowski for the sixth straight game to open the season, the Patriots were in good position to pull out the victory before things unraveled a bit in the fourth quarter. But they pulled out a thrilling victory on a 17-yard touchdown pass -- Tom Brady to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins -- with five seconds left. What an ending. The Patriots improve to 5-1.
Talib’s hip injury a biggie: Cornerback Aqib Talib has arguably been the Patriots’ best defensive player this season, and his work matching up against Saints tight end Jimmy Graham in the first half was exemplary. But Talib left early in the third quarter with a hip injury and didn’t return. His potential absence would be a big blow. Talib had initially attempted to play through the injury, but after two snaps took himself out of the game and headed to the locker room with team doctor Thomas Gill.
Amendola, Mayo and Connolly also injured: Receiver Danny Amendola, on a 1-yard end-around late in the third quarter, lowered his head and safety Rafael Bush made helmet-to-helmet contact with him. Amendola lay motionless before being helped to his feet and needing assistance to walk to the sideline. He didn’t return. The Patriots announced a head injury, presumably a concussion. Elsewhere, linebacker Jerod Mayo left late in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury and didn't return. Also, starting right guard Dan Connolly left the game after two series and didn’t return. The team announced he had a head injury, presumably a concussion. Third-year veteran Marcus Cannon replaced him in the lineup.
Stock watch -- up: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski. He hit a 54-yard field goal in the third quarter, a career-long kick, as he set the franchise record for the most field goal of 50 yards or more (nine).
Stock watch -- down: Offensive play calling and execution in the red zone. Leading 20-17 midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots advanced inside the Saints' red zone and ran three straight times. They settled for a field goal.
Stat of the day: With cornerback Kyle Arrington’s fourth-quarter interception of a pass intended for Graham, the Patriots recorded at least one turnover for their 33rd straight game. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL.
What’s next: The Patriots visit the New York Jets next Sunday. The Patriots, who are 2-0 in the AFC East, recorded a 13-10 victory over the Jets on Sept. 12.