The Patriots lost their season home opener for the first time in 10 years as the Arizona Cardinals defeated them 20-18. Stephen Gostkowski had a chance to win the game late, but missed a 42-yard field goal wide left. The Pats beat up the Cardinals in almost every statistical category except rushing yards. However, an early injury to Aaron Hernandez seemed to hurt the already struggling offense. Tom Brady threw an early interception to Patrick Peterson, who was all over the field defending passes. Brady threw for over 300 yards, including a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski, but was also sacked 4 times. The deciding factor in this loss was the Patriots inability to score touchdowns around the red zone. They simply relied on field goals too much, and when they needed one most, Gostkowski couldn’t deliver.
The game started off very slowly for both teams, who amassed only 6 points each at the half. The Patriot’s offense was simply stifled every time they got close to the end zone. While Aaron Hernandez is a undoubtedly a weapon on offense, his absence should not have affected the offense so much. Hernandez’s injury seems to be serious and the Patriots will be without him for awhile. Fortunately, Wes Welker had a bounce-back week with 5 catches and 95 yards, but the entire receiving corps failed to accumulate yards after the catch. The offense as a whole seemed much slower than the Arizona secondary which was flying around throughout the game. Stevan Ridley rushed for 71 yards, but also lacked big plays.. All in all, the offense was not explosive enough to pull away from the Cardinals.
The defense played well, only giving up 20 points. While the defense did more than enough to put the offense in position to win the game, they did not get enough pressure on Kevin Kolb, who was only sacked once. Kolb constantly made throws on the run to keep the chains moving. The secondary was effective, holding Fitzgerald to only 4 yards on one catch. The run defense was also excellent, allowing only 3 yards a carry to the Arizona running backs and recovering 2 fumbles. The defensive play has to be the silver lining of this upset and something the Patriots can count on throughout the season.
The Patriots travel to Baltimore next week for Sunday Night Football in what will be another competitive game.