The Patriots played yet another up-and-down game, but ultimately had a good, comprehensive 27-13 win against the Cardinals. This result brings them over .500, and strongly aids their playoff push. Here are the key takeaways from the battle against Arizona.
The Patriots’ Offense Is Still Broken, But They Had Their Moments
Especially early in the game, the Patriots’ woes on the offensive side continued. Mac Jones had a first-half interception, and until the very last drive of the first half, the offense didn’t find a play of over 20 yards. Mac Jones had a career high eleven screen passes, and during a lot of the game, the plan was extremely conservative, with the Patriots recording under six yards per play. Michael Palardy punted six times in an up-and-down game.
Patricia and Mac continued to be at odds in the first half, with Mac seemingly ignoring Patricia at one instance as he went on the field – if this is a sign that he is calling audibles, that’s very important for the group. Furthermore, not being able to get it done in the red zone continues to hurt them. This game, they were 2/3 in terms of getting touchdowns, which was certainly an improvement, but still had to kick a field goal from the Arizona four-yard line towards the beginning of the second half.
The offense found late life, though, to a fairly promising extent. They had a very impressive two-minute drill to end the first half, and then marched down the field again to tie the game. They then found another big play to Hunter Henry, which is major because integrating the tight ends has been a problem for the Patriots. It was promising to see good RB play despite the absence of Stevenson, with the rookies finally getting going.
Mac distributed the ball extremely well, passing to eight different people, and while he wasn’t perfect, he was resilient, and he had a bit of a reconciliation with Patricia in the fourth quarter, which is certainly a good sign for the Patriots.
Silly Mistakes Are Costing Them Big Moments
Pretty self-explanatory, small mistakes have been adding up to hamper the Patriots’ game plan. The Patriots only had the one turnover, but the Mac Jones interception was completely avoidable. The bigger issue was penalties. In total, the Patriots had eight penalties for a whopping 80 yards and conceded three first downs off of penalties.
There were plenty of mistakes, whether it was miscommunications in routes, missed blocks, dropped passes, that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but they were extremely costly for the team. Simply put, the Patriots need to clean it up to make a serious playoff push.
The Defense Bent, But Didn’t Break, And Eventually Altered The Game
In a game where the Cardinals were down to Colt McCoy after an early Kyler Murray injury, the Patriots’ defense was fairly leaky in terms of yards. Including the missed field goal, the Cardinals had four score-worthy drives. In addition, they gained 323 yards and had 19 first downs. The Cardinals were able to move the ball and get multiple promising drives going.
Thanks to the Patriots’ bend-but-don’t-break defense, none of that mattered. Of those four score-worthy drives, three of them ended in FG attempts. Furthermore, they forced four turnovers on downs, two of which were off fairly long drives. Then, the Patriots went on a turnover spree, with a Marcus Jones interception that led to a TD and a scoop-and-score by Raekwon McMillan, got more pressure on the QB, in the tune of six sacks. The Cardinals just had 4.7 yards per play, and most importantly, only got 13 points on the board.
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