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Defense and Special Teams Power New England Patriots to Win Over Arizona Cardinals

After surrendering nearly 400 yards to the Houston Texans last week, the New England Patriots had a tough task ahead of them in week 12 as they faced the league’s best offense in the Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots answered the challenge by holding 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray to 170 passing yards and no touchdowns.

The turning point of the game came at the end of the first half where the Patriots made a goal line stand on 4th down. Arizona gambled and went for a touchdown when they could have taken a chip shot field goal. This would backfire as the Pats would win the game on a 50 yard kick from Nick Folk as the game clock expired. Those three points that Arizona left on the board became the difference in this 20-17 game. New England improves to 5-6 on the season and are now two games out of the 7th wild card spot.

The offense did not explode in this game, but they did just enough to squeak by with a victory. Cam Newton completed 50% of his passes with only 9 completions for 84 passing yards. Newton also ran the ball for 46 yards on 9 attempts. The running game totaled 110 yards with Damien Harris leading the way with 47 yards on 14 carries. James White only ran for 18 yards on 5 carries, but he made his opportunities count as he ran for 2 touchdowns.

Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, and White were the only players to catch passes in this game. Meyers led the way with 5 receptions for 52 yards, while Byrd caught 3 passes for 33 yards. Sony Michel would also return to the active roster today, but he would not log a single carry or reception. Arizona’s defense gave the Patriots lots of trouble, but New England’s defense and special teams would pick up the slack.

Adam Butler was the standout on the Patriots defense with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass deflection, and 3 Quarterback hits. Chase Winovich would also record a sack as well as a tackle for loss and 5 total tackles. In the secondary, Stephon Gilmore matched up with DeAndre Hopkins almost the entire game and Gilmore held the All Pro wideout to 55 yards on 5 catches. Hopkins caught most of his passes on out routes and slants and did not threaten on any deep passes in this game.

The unit that played the best for New England today was special teams. At the end of the first quarter, Donte Moncrief had a 53 yard kick return that set up the Patriots offense in plus territory. White would run the ball into the endzone just 7 plays later that would cut Arizona’s lead to 10-7. Gunner Olszewski looked like he had a punt return touchdown in the third quarter, but it would be called back on a controversial blind side block penalty. Due to the penalty, New England would take over on Arizona’s 24 yard line where they would settle for a game tying field goal.

With a win over the Cardinals, New England’s playoff hopes are still alive. Next week they travel to LA to take on a talented 3-8 Chargers team. The Patriots have to win out if they want a shot at making the playoffs.

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