By Jose “Camachito” Rivera.
It was a cool night in the desert at State Farm Stadium in Glendale Arizona for Monday Night Football where the stage was set for The Arizona Cardinals to take on The New England Patriots with playoff positioning on the line.
It’s the second straight week that The Patriots played under the bright lights of a nationally televised game when they met The Buffalo Bills for week thirteen in a division game last Thursday at Gillette Stadium with them ending up on the losing end and ending up 6-6 and in last place in the AFC East.
The night started with the Pats winning the coin toss and deferring to the Cardinals, In the first ensuing minutes and the third play from scrimmage Arizona QB Tyler Murray fell awkwardly as he ran the ball where he had to be taken off in a cart and in coming back up QB Colt McCoy for the Birds.
McCoy led his team down the field and set up kicker Matt Prater with a fifty yard field goal attempt only to shank it wide right and the miss.
Mac Jones and the Pats abysmal offensive struggles continued as on their first drive of play they got in trouble by adding a third down play with more yardage after an offensive penalty which has been something they have needed to work on as of late.
In the first quarter with 2:28 minutes remaining in the clock Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson goes down with an injury leaving them with only two rookie backs for the night seeing that starter Damien Harris was already on the games injury report and not available, wide receiver Devante Parker had gotten injured in an earlier play and adding insult to injury moments after Stevenson goes down QB Mac Jones throws an interception with Arizona capitalizing and charging down for a field goal just moments into the second quarter making it the first score of the game and the Cardinals leading 3-0.
New England answered right back with the next man up mentality that they usually possess as rookie running back Kevin Harris rushes for fourteen yards and his first touchdown of the season also making it the first red zone touchdown the team has scored since week nine.
In a game riddled with significant injuries before the half where also Patriot rookie cornerback Jack Jones went down the bright side was of running back Rhamondre Stevenson coming back in the game but that was not enough as the Pats kept shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and a touchdown for the Cardinals by running back James Conner has them leading 13-7.
Next a drive by New England sends kicker NIck Folk for a fifty one yard field goal try with only four seconds on the clock where he drives it through to make it a three point game by half time.
On the first drive of the second half there was frustration from NE QB Mac Jones where he waved off offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, things settled down when rookie running back Pierre Strong and fellow rookie wide receiver Taquan Thorton helped put together a drive to set up kicker Nick Folk for a good forty four yarder to tie the game 13-13.
In the third quarter with 5:32 remaining wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins fumbled a pass from Colt McCoy forced by New Englands Kyle Duggar with it being picked up by Raekwon McMillan taking it back the other way for twenty three yards and a NE score for the lead of 20-13, then with 1:06 remaining in the third rookie Marcus Jones gets his first interception of the season from Colt McCoy and the Pats capitalize with a big play by TE Hunter Henry for thirty one yards following by a rushing play of three yards and the first touchdown of the season for rookie running back Piere Strong and the Patriot lead 27-13.
With 6:53 remaining in the fourth quarter the play was shut down so four time pro bowler safety veteran for the Patriots Devin McCourty can be taken off the field and evaluated for concussion protocol, on the ensuing play Matthew Judon gets through the lineman for a big play sack and a couple more outstanding plays by the Pats defense gets the ball back to their offense.
After going back and forth in what was remaining left of the fourth quarter on a night that the Patriots defense had six sacks and excellent defensive play they leave the desert with the victory and positioned themselves in seventh place for the moment in the AFC playoff standings at 7-6 and tied with the NY Jets in the AFC East as they stay west next Sunday to take on their former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and The Las Vegas Raiders.