5 Things We Learned from the Patriots' 20-18 Loss to the Arizona Cardinals
The New England Patriots' game Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals was one of the more eventful games you will ever see down the stretch. Both teams seemingly had the game in their grasps, only to watch it slip out of their hands. Fortunately for Arizona, the Patriots were the last team to find a way to lose.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the Patriots' loss Sunday afternoon.
Hernandez's Loss Cannot Be Stressed Enough
After losing Aaron Hernandez with a leg injury in the first quarter Sunday, the Patriot offense failed to click on all cylinders until the final minutes of the game.
Hernandez is a player who rarely leaves the field except for occasional power-running situations. His loss to the Patriots' aerial attack completely alters their plans offensively.
In some plays, Hernandez's role may be taken by receiver Julian Edelman, but Edelman does not bring the versatility and play-making to the field that Hernandez does.
The injury to Hernandez is believed to be a high ankle sprain, according to CBSSports.com. That should at least mean fans can expect him back, but the offense temporarily will have to move forward without him.
Offensive Line Is Still a Problem
Tom Brady was sacked four times Sunday afternoon, but he was under duress plenty most of the afternoon.
The only time that Brady was not under pressure seemed to be when he was able to get the Cardinal defense on their heels at the end of both halves.
The offensive line has a lot of moving parts right now with players like Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Donald Thomas, Sebastian Vollmer, and Marcus Cannon all possibly moving on the line or off the field at a moment's notice. For the offensive line to improve, five players need to grow as a cohesive unit.
Patriot Defense Still Masters of Taking Away No. 1 Threat
Larry Fitzgerald, one catch for four yards. Chris Johnson, 11 rushes for four yards.
The Patriots are masters of taking away the one star player an offense presents to them. Fitzgerald was double covered virtually all day. Unfortunately for the Patriots, quarterback Kevin Kolb was able to have a little success at times going to Arizona's lesser targets.
The Patriot defense should still hold their heads high, as they made the huge stripping the ball out from Ryan Williams late in the game that should have resulted in a win. The Patriot offense and special teams are the ones accountable for their stunning loss.
Gostkowski Is Not Adam Vinatieri
Stephen Gostkowski had made four field goals on the day, two of them coming from over 50 yards, but when it came down to that key moment, he reminded New England faithful why Adam Vinatieri was so valuable.
Vinatieri very well could have missed one of the kicks earlier in the day, but if you had him line up for the game-winning 41-yard field goal in the final seconds, you would feel great about it. Vinateiri showed why he is an all-time great again Sunday, as he nailed a 53-yarder with 8 seconds remaining to give the Colts their first win of the season.
Fortunately for Gostkowski, he has not been put in this situation very often. Hopefully for his sake, he gets a chance at redemption sooner rather than later, because this one is sure to stick with him.
Patriot Offense Still Clutch
The Patriots had struggled on offense all afternoon since losing Aaron Hernandez, but when crunch time came around, all was forgotten.
Tom Brady orchestrated two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots a fighting chance. There was a two-point try that failed after Brady's fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, but outside of that, the offense was very hugely successful late.
Brady should have actually led a third scoring drive in the final moments, but a questionable holding call on Gronkowski negated what would have been a game-winning touchdown run by Danny Woodhead.