With three players scoring their first NFL touchdowns and the Arizona Cardinals losing quarterback Kyler Murray to a knee injury on the game’s third play, the New England Patriots came on for a 27-13 victory in the NFL’s Week 14 Monday night game.
After back-to-back losses, the Patriots moved back into the final slot in the AFC postseason field with four weeks remaining in the regular season.
· SAINTS KEEPING COACH, QB IN PLACE FOR STRETCH RUN
· TUA TAGOVAILOA STRUGGLES IN MIAMI’S SUNDAY NIGHT LOSS
· DOLPHINS’ JAYLEN WADDLE REACHES RECEIVING MILESTONE
Despite losing Murray, perhaps for the rest of the season, and playing with backup Colt McCoy under center, Arizona had a 13-7 lead after James Conner scored the Cardinals’ only touchdown on a 10-yard run with 2:59 left in the first half.
The game’s pivotal play – if it wasn’t Murray’s injury – broke a 13-13 tie with 5:32 left in the third quarter. New England safety Kyle Dugger caused Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to lose the football after a reception, and linebacker Raekwon McMillan returned the fumble 23 yards for a touchdown.
The New England defense also registered six sacks and stopped Arizona on four of its five fourth-down attempts. That included a fourth-and-1 snap at the Patriots 32-yard line with 32 seconds until halftime, and a 30-yard completion by quarterback Mac Jones to tight end Hunter Henry allowed New England to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 13-10 with a field goal as time ran out in the first half.
“We came here to win, and that was the important part,” Jones said. “So come out with a win however we had to do it. It was a team win.”
New England had injury problems of its own in the game, losing running back Rhamondre Stevenson, wide receiver DeVante Parker and cornerback Jack Jones in the first half. With former Alabama standout Damien Harris unavailable at running back, too, because of a thigh injury, Mac Jones was left handing off to two running backs with five rushing attempts for 9 yards between them in their NFL careers.
But Pierre Strong rushed for 70 yards on five carries, including a 44-yard run and a 3-yard touchdown run with 14:09 left to play, and caught two passes for 20 yards, and Kevin Harris rushed for 26 yards on eight carries, including a 14-yard touchdown with 11:25 left in the first half.
“It was a little bit of a hectic injury game for us,” Mac Jones said. “But you can’t control those things. Obviously, Rhamondre went down. He’s one of our best players, so those guys stepped up. Obviously, with Damien out, they had to step up, and the thing I told Kevin (who played at South Carolina) was ‘It’s just like SEC football, so go out there do your thing. You’ve played against really good teams, and that’s what it is.’ And Pierre, the same thing – a young guy but he’s really fast. He uses his speed well. They did a great job.”
The former Alabama All-American completed 24-of-35 passes for 235 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for New England.
“I thought Mac made a lot of good decisions,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He got hit on the deep ball, and that was the interception.”
In addition to Jones, five other players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the New England-Arizona game:
· Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Patriots running back Damien Harris (Alabama) was designated as a game-day inactive. A thigh injury kept Harris sidelined for a second straight game.
· Cardinals center Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings (Dadeville, Alabama) played but did not record any stats.
· Jonathan Jones (Auburn) started at left cornerback for the Patriots. Jones made four tackles.
· Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones (Enterprise, Troy), who entered the game with six career tackles, made seven, came up with his first NFL interception and broke up another pass. Jones picked off a deep throw by McCoy on a second-and-13 snap at the New England 40-yard. Jones’ 18-yard return reached the Patriots 37 and started a touchdown drive of three straight completions by Mac Jones and Strong’s run to the end zone. Marcus Jones also contributed in the other two phases of the game as well. He caught a 12-yard pass as a wide receiver and returned one punt for 7 yards and two kickoffs for 47 yards.
· Cardinals cornerback Christian Matthew (Samford) made one tackle and broke up one pass.
· Patriots defensive tackle LaBryan Ray (James Clemens, Alabama) is on practice-squad injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Cardinals offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons (Selma) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Patriots outside linebacker Mack Wilson (Carver-Montgomery, Alabama) made one tackle on special teams.
New England improved to 7-6, and Arizona dropped to 4-8.
The Patriots and Cardinals will visit AFC West teams at 3:05 p.m. CST Sunday. The Patriots will square off against the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Cardinals will meet the Denver Broncos.
FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR NFL PAGE
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
Leave a Reply