Short-handed Patriots hang on to defeat Cardinals
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[September 12, 2016]
(Reuters) - Even without their
stars and other starters as well, the New England Patriots proved
they are no pushovers when playing short-handed.
Just ask the Arizona Cardinals, who fell 23-21 Sunday night in the
season-opener for both teams at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"I'm happy to win, fortunate to win," Patriots coach Bill Belichick
said. "We're going to need to play better next week and succeeding
It was good enough, though, to earn a road victory over a team that
went 13-3 a year ago and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Playing without suspended quarterback Tom Brady, All-Pro tight end
Rob Gronkowski, suspended defensive end Rob Ninkovich and two
starting offensive linemen, the Patriots rode the arm of Jimmy
Garoppolo and the leg of kicker Stephen Gostkowski to deal Arizona
its first home loss in September since 2009.
The Cardinals rallied from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit and
eventually took the lead with 9:46 left to play when Carson Palmer
threw a 1-yard fade pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the corner of the
end zone. Chandler Catanzaro's extra point made it 21-20, Arizona.
However, Garoppolo, charged with replacing Brady during the future
Hall of Famer's four-game suspension for his alleged role in the
Deflategate controversy, brought his team back and proved the Las
Vegas oddsmakers, who listed New England as 9-point underdogs, to be
He guided the Patriots on a 13-play, 61-yard drive that was capped
by Gostkowski's third field goal of the game, a 32-yarder, with 3:44
remaining. Gostkowski also connected from 47 and 53 yards.
"He's incredible," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said of Garoppolo.
"All game he went out there and made the plays he was supposed to
make. We knew as a team. We believed in him." There was no doubt in
this locker room that Jimmy could go out there and play."
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Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) runs the ball against
the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at University of Phoenix
Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals had a chance to win it, driving to the Patriots'
29-yard line in the final minute of play. However, Catanzaro was
wide left on a 47-yard field-goal attempt. The snap from rookie
Kameron Canaday was low to holder Drew Butler, which threw Catanzaro
"I wish I could take it back, but I can't," Canaday said. "I am just
going to have to move forward and focus on next week and improving."
The Patriots took over with 41 seconds remaining and ran out the
clock to seal the win.
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