a blog by La Kifo
Prime time had little affect on Jimmy Garoppolo and the rest of the New England Patriots as their war of attrition ended with a 23-21 victory in a familiar place, against an unfamiliar team.
The Arizona Cardinals are a Suberbowl Contender, if they can hang that long with the Patriots then they will be going places in January. They've been a Suberbowl contender for a few years, and the team Bill faced might be their best roster since Kurt Warner threw a pick six to James Harrison as time expired in the first half of the Super Bowl XLIII (43).
The Patriots defense started strong, Chris Long notched a sack in the first half and the unit only allowed 7 points before the break. Vincent Valentine, and Jamie Collins also recorded sacks as the Patriots surrendered 8 first downs in two quarters of play. The secondary shut down the Cardinals passing attack, while the front seven cleaned up the scraps.
The Patriots offense in the first half mirrored the success of the defense. Jimmy Garoppolo tossed his first touchdown pass of the season, 37 yards to Chris Hogan on the offenses first drive of the game. They ended the first two quarters of play with only 10 points. The offense was moving the ball effectively, mainly through the air, LeGarrete Blount and the run game was inexplicably bad. The line didn't create large gaps, or get great push but they did enough to create holes for Blount while facing one of the best front sevens in football. Blount twinkle toed himself around before crossing the line of scrimmage, simply just wasting movement by making extra cuts. Several times if he ran instead of cutting, he would have gained at least 2 more yards each time. The rush attack really slowed down the Patriots. The passing looked fluid, quick read routes got Julian Edelman open quite a few times early in the game.
I think we all watched the game, and I'm not here to recap the rest of the game. Eventually the win came down to the team effort. The offense, down 21-20 after giving up big plays in a drive that lead to the aged unstoppable (Larry Fitzgerald) touchdown, needed a long drive that ended in points. Jimmy and the cadets proceeded to deliver a career/season/game defining drive to take the lead. This game winning drive, could very well be the difference between a 1 seed or a 2 seed in the playoffs. The Patriots found themselves in 3rd and 15 just 2 plays into a pressure filled situation being down late in the game. Jimmy then hung in the pocket, scrambled to his left and off balance threw a dime to a diving Danny Amendola for the first down. Danny hadn't done much up until this drive, but it just goes to show that Amendola is a gamer, I hate that expression its overused, he's clutch. Danny has done it in the past and if we keep finding ourselves in high pressure situations, he is a great player to have. The next set of downs, the Patriots find themselves in a 2nd and 16, who else but Daniel hauls in a 13 yard catch to make it 3rd and 3, still not in field goal range but in Arizona territory. The Patriots would go on to convert the 3rd and 3, then convert a 3rd and 11 on a LeGarrete Blount run. At this point they were in field goal range and Bill began to bleed a little time. An important factor in this game was that Bruce Arians (Arizonas Head Coach) used his 3rd and final timeout at the 4:37 mark of the 4th quarter.
The Cardinals would get the ball back at 3:38, with no timeouts at their 8 yard line. They would earn themselves enough yards to get into field goal range with 41 seconds to go. The only problem is Chandler Catanzaro, the Cardinals kicker. Chris Colinsworth and the other guy on the broadcast would not stop mentioning how Catanzaro was a dead eye field goal kicker, unless the kick was from 47 yards or more. Guess what, the kick was 47 yards to win the game. I knew he wouldn't hit the kick, I knew it from the moment they mentioned that statistic.
This win was important. A lot of "experts" and Vegas odds-makers didn't expect a road victory from the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots, but they were wrong the entire time. I don't think I can name a guy in Boston who said we were gonna lose (please let me know if there was someone I didn't know about, doubting our boys). It's not because we have the best coach in the league, or we're the best organization with the best owner. We won because, we have one of the best complementary teams in the league. Our offense is built to hold onto the ball with deep/long drives, dominating time of possession. With a top 2 kicker in the league. Toppled on to those is a suffocating multiple front defense, that can confuse and degrade. This win shows us how good the roster looks, besides the quarterback position, against some of the NFLs best, and we look pretty fucking good.
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