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Patriots Defense Impresses Twitter as New England Tops Kyler Murray-Less Cardinals

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 13, 2022

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 12: Raekwon McMillan #50 of the New England Patriots recovers a fumble to score a 23 yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

It wasn't always pretty, but the New England Patriots got right back in the playoff picture.

New England defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-13 on Monday at State Farm Stadium, ending a two-game losing streak and improving to 7-6. The contest was marred by injuries—including a non-contact one Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray suffered on the first possession—but the visitors pulled ahead behind a strong defensive effort.

That showing was critical because the Patriots were without running back Damien Harris and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and then lost running back Rhamondre Stevenson and wide receiver DeVante Parker during the contest.

Raekwon McMillan's scoop-and-score in the third quarter on a DeAndre Hopkins fumble put New England ahead for good, Marcus Jones' interception on the ensuing possession ended a potential game-winning drive, and the defense sacked Colt McCoy six times.

The Patriots D drew praise for its clutch performance:

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Patriots with the SCOOP AND SCORE‼️<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nfl</a>)<a href="https://t.co/FVsoOtF4Gw">pic.twitter.com/FVsoOtF4Gw</a>

Alexandra Francisco @ByAlFrancisco

Kyle Dugger forces a fumble after tackling Hopkin. Rakewon McMillan capitalizes. New England's defense comes up clutch again.<br><br>Patriots 21, Cardinals 13

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The Patriots have now scored 85 points off turnovers this season, most in the NFL.

Meredith Gorman @MereGorman

Patriots defense saving the day

BetRivers Sportsbook @BetRivers

the Patriots defense getting a touchdown every week<a href="https://t.co/xwT8NqYDMQ">pic.twitter.com/xwT8NqYDMQ</a>

Jordan Moore @iJordanMoore

Matthew Judon is a menace.<br><br>14.5 sacks this year. Dominant. <a href="https://t.co/nRaO4qZ97Z">pic.twitter.com/nRaO4qZ97Z</a>

Doug Kyed @DougKyed

Matt Judon and Josh Uche are a dangerous pair.

Jamie Gatlin @JamieGatlin17

The Patriots defense in the second half <a href="https://t.co/fDzwu9EZnQ">pic.twitter.com/fDzwu9EZnQ</a>

Conor Ryan @ConorRyan_93

The Patriots defense: <a href="https://t.co/Ep9fQmLC4I">pic.twitter.com/Ep9fQmLC4I</a>

Chris Mason @ByChrisMason

Patriots' best offense: Their defense.

Jason McIntyre @jasonrmcintyre

Boy did this trash game flip on that Hopkins fumble.<br><br>Next drive Colt terrible INT.<br><br>Patriots TD.<br><br>Defense awoken, and this feels over. Ugh, Patriots back in the playoff mix

This was an important swing game for the AFC East team. It is now tied with the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets in the race for the final wild-card spot and no longer has to worry about a losing streak spiraling with little time to fix things.

The victors still left plenty to be desired on offense with Mac Jones throwing a pick to Isaiah Simmons, fumbling a handoff exchange as a drive stalled with a field goal right before halftime and even visibly showing frustration with play-caller Matt Patricia, but unexpected touchdowns by running backs Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. provided enough support.

McMillan's touchdown swung the game, and the defense looked formidable enough to help the Patriots challenge for a postseason berth.

That unit will look to keep the momentum rolling in the team's next contest, on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders.