The Patriots had huge plays at the end of each half on Sunday as they pulled out a hard-fought 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals as Nick Folk booted a 50-yard field goal as time expired.
But they also had a huge goalline stop on 4th and goal on the last play of the first half, stuffing Kenyan Drake at the half-yard line which turned into a huge momentum shift. For the defense, it was an extremely hard-fought win but it wasn’t pretty as they gave up long time-consuming drives, coupled with brutal 3rd down penalties that kept drives alive inside the 10-yard line but intermingled that with some outstanding play upfront.
But the big story of this game was the special teams and …believe it or not, the return game. The Patriots return game has been MIA all season long. But not today. Donte Moncrief jump-started the dormant offense after the Patriots fell behind 10-0 and appeared to be going down the tubes again.
But Moncrief’s 53-yard kickoff return put the offense in great field position, and the drive was finished off by James White scoring the first of his two touchdowns. White had only 18 yards on 5 carries but two of those went into the end zone so it was, in essence, a very productive day for the veteran.
Later, after a short punt by Andy Lee, Gunner Olszewski caught the Cardinals coverage teams as he fielded the punt on the run and was racing to what seemed like an 82-yard touchdown. But Anfernee Jennings was flagged for a penalty that was horribly called a blindside block. That cost the Patriots four points as they were backed up to the 39-yard line, but were able to kick a field goal to tie the game at 10.
Later in the third quarter, a tipped pass by Adam Butler set up an interception by Adrian Phillips, and White scored his second touchdown on a nice play fake by Cam Newton as White took it to the pylon to put the Patriots up 17-10.
The offense overall was rather anemic, mustering only 194 yards (179 net) on the day. Newton passed for just 84 yards and had a pair of interceptions while the running game could only garner 110 yards on 30 carries against a pretty subpar defense.
Defensively, Butler and Lawrence Guy each had massive impacts upfront. Guy had a tremendous game in short-yardage and Butler had a sack, three QB hits, 2 tackles for loss, as well as the pass batted down at the line.
But it was obvious that Kyler Murray wasn’t 100 percent. And when he doesn’t run the ball, this Cardinals’ offense, while still very potent, has trouble finishing drives. Murray was favoring a sore left shoulder and had only 31 yards rushing, with the majority of those in the 4th quarter. Today was the first game all year, that Murray has been held out of the end zone. With his running on the back burner, he could only manage 170 yards while completing 23-34 passes with 0 TDs and an INT.
The Patriots defense had a brutal sequence where they committed two penalties on 3rd down inside the 10-yard line, which eventually turned into a game-tying touchdown by Kenyan Drake. Drake had a very solid game, running for 78 tough yards on 22 carries and adding 15 more out of the backfield.
After the two-minute warning, the Cardinals had the chance to take the lead, but kicker Zane Gonzalez missed from 45 yards and the Patriots had life. Newton picked up a huge 3rd and 13 conversion run to the left sideline by the Patriots bench. But the Cardinals were whistled for a helmet-to-helmet hit by Isaiah Simmons that put the team in great shape at the Arizona 39. A 5-yard pass to Damiere Byrd, a 2-yard run by James White, followed by a Newton spike set up Folk’s heroics on the 50-yard FG.
With the win, the Patriots improve to 5-6 with another chance to get back to .500 next week when they travel to LA to take on the Chargers.
Posted Under: 2020 NFL Season
Tags: Arizona Cardinals Bill Belichick Cam Newton Devin McCourty Kenyan Drake Kyler Murray New England Patriots NFL Patriots