Week One Review: Patriots “upset” the Cardinals

In a game billed as a potential “Super Bowl match-up”, it certainly felt like a close game throughout between two very top teams in the NFL. Between the Patriots and Cardinals, there was over 700 yards of offense (363 for New England, 344 for Arizona). This isn’t too surprising given the high-powered offenses that both teams have. The big difference being that the Patriots were without their starting quarterback and tight end, while the Cardinals boasted a completely healthy squad tonight.

In Jimmy Garoppolo’s first career regular season start, he did much better than most, if not any would’ve have predicted. He finished 24 of 33 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown. But more importantly, he didn’t have any interceptions. Going against one of the toughest defensive units from a year ago in the Cardinals, there was expected to be some uneasy play from Garoppolo. Instead, he at times, looked as poised as a veteran and made some solid throws down the field. He also was only sacked twice, but did have two fumbles, so there was clearly some things to work on. Overall, he ended the night with a 106.1 passer rating.

While he only finished with a 3.2 yards per carry average, LeGarrette Blount had a solid night. Finishing with 70 yards and a rushing touchdown, he was able to help keep the tempo going for the Patriots. That includes a crucial 13 yard run on a 3rd down and 11 late in the game on one of the wildest play calls you’ll probably see this season. In the running game, Julian Edelman gained 16 yards on three designed end-around hand-offs, while James White and Brandon Bolden each had one rushing attempt for four yards. Lest we forget, Garoppolo also finished with 12 yards rushing on four carries as well.

In the receiving game, Edelman (seven) and White (five) had the most receptions for the Patriots, with Chris Hogan, Martellus Bennett and Danny Amendola all finishing with three receptions. Hogan had a nice 38 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter when he beat rookie Brandon Williams over-the-top. Edelman was the main chain-mover for the Patriots, finishing with 66 yards and being targeted a good amount early on. Later in the game, Garoppolo looked towards White and Amendola (all three of his receptions came in the fourth quarter) to help keep the Patriots in the game. Garoppolo himself even had a reception, as he caught his own tipped pass and ran it for three yards. It was a solid night for the Patriots on offense as they ran the ball a good amount and targeted rookie Williams a good amount to their advantage in the passing game.

Despite giving up 271 yards and two touchdowns through the air and over 90 yards rushing, the Patriots had a solid night defensively. They gave up two receiving touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald (who had eight receptions for 81 yards as well), but kept John Brown and Michael Floyd combined to five receptions for 69 yards. David Johnson turned a very solid game as he ran for 89 yards rushing and had 43 yards receiving, with his lone touchdown coming via the run. He looked extremely explosive in the open field and was posed a big problem to the Patriots as they had issues tackling him the entire night.

The team on defense accumulated three sacks, six pass break-ups, six tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits. Jabaal Sheard stood out as usual with three tackles for a loss, while Jamie Collins, Vincent Valentine and Chris Long all had sacks on Carson Palmer. Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler appeared to have issues at times covering Fitzgerald and Floyd, giving up 11 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns combined to them. But they both made some nice plays against one of the toughest wide receiver groups in the entire league. Justin Coleman stood out with two pass break-ups and nearly had one if not two interceptions as well, functioning as the team’s number three outside cornerback.

Stephen Gostkowski was his usual self, making all three of his field goal opportunities (including one from 53 yards) while converting both extra points. Cyrus Jones had one kick return for 26 yards and one punt return for 10 yards, while Amendola had another punt return for eight yards.

Overall, this was a very good outing for the Patriots, to win such a tough road game without their star quarterback or tight end. Their next game is against a perhaps easier opponent in division rival Miami Dolphins, who are coming off a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks. This also starts the first of three straight homes for the Patriots as well. This was the big hurdle for New England in facing Arizona and they finished as the winning team. That bodes well for the rest of the four game suspension Brady has left and for the entire Patriots team.

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