by Robbie Congdon
Every NFL fan knows Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are always full of surprises, but without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, not many expected them to beat Arizona on the road during week one. Brady is in the midst of serving a four game suspension, while Gronkowski was a late scratch along with talented offensive lineman Nate Solder, running back Dion Lewis, and defensive end Rob Ninkovich.
Along with suspensions and injuries, they had to open up against possibly the toughest team in the NFC, the Arizona Cardinals. Jimmy Garoppolo was set to make his first career NFL start as Arizona was favored by 9.5 points by the Vegas Insider.
Patriots fan and NAHS senior Andrew Blanchette said, “I was nervous before the game and didn’t know what to expect out of Garoppolo.”
New England started the game on defense and held Arizona to just one first down and got the ball back quickly. Garoppolo then took over the spotlight, with all the pressure on his shoulders. He came out looking good and connected with Julian Edelman for three first downs.
Later in the drive, Garoppolo hit Chris Hogan down the left side of the field for a 37-yard touchdown. All of a sudden, he had all the confidence in the world and didn’t let up. The defense stuffed Arizona on their first drive and got the ball right back and took the ball down the field, but ended up setting for a Stephen Gostowski field goal to end the first quarter at 10-0.
The second quarter was quiet until Arizona had a late 3-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to make the score 10-7 at halftime. In the 3rd quarter, the Patriots took their opening drive down the field and capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown run by LaGarette Blount to make it 17-7. Arizona responded with a touchdown drive of their own to make it 17-14 at the end of the 3rd.
To begin the 4th, the Patriots had a decent drive and Gostowski converted on a 53-yard field goal to make it 20-14. Arizona responded with their best drive of the night and Carson Palmer hit Fitzgerald for a 1-yard touchdown and they took the lead, 21-20.
New England drew a blank on the next drive, but the defense stepped up and stopped Arizona on their next drive. Garoppolo took the field in a situation Brady shines in: down by 1 with five minutes to play, game on the line. He put together a decent drive and got Gostowski in position to hit a 32-yard field goal to go up 23-21.
Arizona then drove down the field to set up Chandler Catanzaro for a 47-yard field goal to win. The snap was bad and he pulled the kick way left and the Patriots won.