Patriots Escape Arizona with a 23-21 Victory

Philip Tor | Pats Militia

What a way to begin a season. Walking into a tough stadium, to play in against a team that is a strong favorite in the NFC, without your two best players is a tall task for any team. Unfortunately for the Cardinals the New England Patriots are not just any other team. The Patriots walked in to University of Phoenix stadium with a chip on their shoulder and a swagger that couldn’t be overlooked. The Patriots had to prove themselves with all the questions and speculation going around about their offense and team without Brady during his suspension. The critics got the answer they were looking for, and the Patriots got the win they were looking for.

jimmy

I must admit, I was nervous for this game. Seriously though, Arizona is a REALLY good football team who ran through opponents last season and a little bit of doubt creeped into my mind because of that. But 11 minutes into the 2016 season those nerves disappeared. When Jimmy Garoppolo dropped a dime to a wide open Chris Hogan for the first touchdown of the Patriots season.

That drive was exactly what Patriots fans hoped to see from their young quarterback. He answered his doubters and did not stop there. Garoppolo continued his solid play by leading another Patriots scoring drive in the first half to make it 10-0 late in the second quarter. Jimmy would finish up the night with 24 completion on 33 attempts, racking up 264 yards and throwing for that one TD to Hogan. Jimmy G also ran for 12 yards and even caught a deflected pass of his own and ran for 3 receiving yards.

The play of Jimmy G was shocking to a lot of people, but not to his coach Bill Belichick. Bill was his typical stoic self in the post game interview answering the question “How do you think Jimmy Garoppolo played tonight?” with a simple

“Good”

If fans were reminded of one thing in this game it is that this team’s defense will keep them in games. They were relentless all night putting consistent pressure on Carson Palmer and holding David Johnson at bay for most of the game. One weak spot was at the cornerback position with Logan Ryan. Logan Ryan made significant strides last year and proved himself to be the clear cut number 2 corner behind Malcolm Butler. Butler was primarily lined up against Malcolm Floyd or John Brown, leaving Larry Fitzgerald to be covered by Ryan.

 

Fitzgerald dominated Ryan the whole night catching 8 passes for 81 yards and two scores on 10 targets. Obviously covering Larry Fitzgerald is not a simple task, but he was getting blown off the line and dusted by Fitzgerald in the open field.

(This TD was just a great play by Palmer/Fitz, Ryan actually put pretty good coverage on him here)

Now to the finish.

OH MY GOD I was on my knees praying and crying a little bit, just hoping and wishing that somehow, some way Chandler Catanzaro would shank that kick. As the kick went up I flashed back to 2011 and the kick that sent the Patriots to Super Bowl 46.

I knew when I saw the stat that said Catanzaro was 0/3 last season on field goals from 47+ pop up on the screen before the kick, the Patriots would win the game.

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The rest is history, a low snap, bad hold, and a shanked kick by Catanzaro, one kneel by the Patriots and a 1-0 record.

Great way to start the year. Especially after every single “ESPN Expert Analyst” picked the Cardinals to win the game. I understand Brady was suspended, Gronk was hurt, our offensive line destroyed with injuries, but how many times do the Patriots have to prove that they need not be overlooked. They are the most dominant team in football, period. The fact that not even one person picked the Pats is absurd.

The aspect that should be talked about the most is the Patriots 3rd down conversions. The Patriots were 10-16 on 3rd down conversions, consistently keeping drives alive with the conversions. This was a fantastic thing to see out of a QB in his first start because it is such a tough skill to develop even for QBs who have been in the league for years.

I marked down the biggest issue to be the turnovers. Granted there were only 2 but both were fumbles, and nothing can hurt a team more than struggling to hold onto the ball. The Cardinals scored 14 points off those 2 fumbles. In my opinion if you take those two fumbles out of the game, the Patriots win by double digits. The first fumble occurred when the Patriots were marching down the field, then fumbled to give the Cardinals great field position and an opportunity to score before the half.

That being said I don’t believe the fumbles were a huge deal but they can end up being a huge deal if they keep happening, which they probably won’t if I know Bill Belichick.

Week 1 is in the books, and the New England Patriots are 1-0 heading into a tilt vs the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium next Sunday afternoon.

Meme of the game:

 

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