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Patriots vs. Cardinals: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Victory Monday!

What a great game. There's really no other way to put it. That was just a great game, and one that exceeded almost all of my expectations going in. Nobody really expected the Patriots to win this one, including yours truly, but as they have done so many times in the past, Belichick zigged while the rest of the world zagged, and now the Patriots sit as the only undefeated team in the AFC East. Everyone's predictions for how the game was going to go went right out the window almost right from the opening kickoff and the game we all thought the Patriots were going to play was actually anything but. If you had told me before this one started that the Cardinals would need a last second field goal attempt to beat a Patriots team that was missing it's All-Star QB, All-Star tight end, both starting tackles, and most dangerous running back, I would have taken that all day. If you had told me the Patriots would walk away with a win here, I would have politely asked you for a sip of whatever it is you were drinking. But here I sit on this crisp September morn, utterly exhausted from my complete inability to sleep following a primetime matchup that left me all kinds of amped up, still looking at a big fat zero in the New England loss column.

It's Overreaction Monday, so let's all keep that in mind here. Yes, let's celebrate and enjoy, but there's a lot of football left to play. This game doesn't mean a whole lot big picture...but who cares? To the Fan Notes!

  • I feel like I say this at the beginning of every season, but it bears repeating again: if they just got rid of the Carrie Underwood opening SNF montage, would anybody even bat an eyelash? Does that stupid song and CGI-laden nonsense make anyone's football watching experience even slightly better? Just do a half hour of highlights and then cut right to Chris Collinsworth's flapping gums.
  • That said...I wonder which young pop star is going to be taking over in a few years. I can't name a single one of Carrie Underwood's songs, but at least it's a name I recognize. Whoever gets the gig next will likely have been born when I was in high school and watching her is going to be an interesting internal struggle as I fight back the creepy old man in me who hasn't moved in just yet, but is in the neighborhood and asking questions.
  • Absolutely love that Bo Jackson Tecmo Bowl Kia commercial - except for the fact that there is currently an entire generation of college students who probably saw that ad and had absolutely no clue what was going on. Getting old blows.
  • Another reason getting old blows: these night games are really starting to take their toll. The fact that I'm already worn out from primetime games and it's only Week 1 doesn't bode well for the next few months.
  • I'd be lying if I said a very small part of me wasn't hoping the Patriots were going to come out and, as some kind of protest to the league, just refuse to take the field. Or just take a knee three times and punt on every possession. And then Arizona catches on and they kneel and punt and the entire game is nothing but that and it ends in a 0-0 tie with both squads coming together in formation to spell out "Fire Goodell" right across midfield. But I guess a massive upset win is a nice consolation.
  • There was a whole lot of residual terror from last season that I didn't even remember I experienced when I saw Danny Amendola back there to field his first punt of 2016. Remember all those fumbles, everyone?
  • Here's what I'd like to think Jimmy Garoppolo said to Josh McDaniels before taking the field for the first time.
  • Jimmy G's first real series as a Patriot: overthrow, Jet sweep, completion to Edelman for a first, run negated by a hold, completion to Edelman, short Blount run, out route to Edelman, off tackle run by Blount, beautiful 37 yard strike to Chris Hogan for the score. Nine plays, 74 yards. Could be a lot worse.
  • His second drive wasn't too shabby either, I guess - start from your own eight, go 63 yards on 12 plays, get a field goal on the board.
  • Did Martellus Bennett say he was representing "The Imagination Agency" during the team intros? What is that guy's deal? And what is The Imagination Agency? I did a quick Google search, and I got this. Seems like a coverup to me.
  • Let the record show that, for at least part of the 2106 NFL season, Jimmy Garoppolo had a perfect passer rating.
  • I wonder how many teams would take Garoppolo right now to start next week if they had the chance.
  • Seeing Dante Scranecchia on the sidelines again last night is the NFL equivalent of finally having my dream of all day McDonald's breakfast become a reality.
  • Anyone else see that weird bump on Belichick's lower lip last night? If I were a betting man, I would say it was an illegally implanted chip wired directly to his brain that allows him to tap into opposing team's headsets. Not looking forward to the multi-million dollar lawsuit that will stem from ColdsoreGate.
  • Defensively, New England stayed fairly disciplined and kept everything in front of them. They seemed relatively content to surrender the under routes and quick flat options in order to take away the big play and frustrate Carson Palmer into making mistakes/forcing throws deep. Their "take away the biggest weapon" strategy seemed geared towards preventing the big play, and they did that with aplomb.
  • It's really hard not to love Julian Edelman. Pretty much every time he makes a play his face looks like the guy who tackled him just made an off-color comment about his mother. Chris Collinsworth said that in a different reality, Edelman would probably be a cage fighter, and I agree.
  • It's only Week 1 and I found myself agreeing with something that Collinsworth said. Crap.
  • Speaking of lovable #11s...Larry Fitzgerald may possibly go down as my favorite wide receiver to ever play the game. In a position dominated by divas and showboaters, all Fitzgerald has ever done was keep his mouth shut and dominate. Class act all the way, and one of the most complete receivers you will ever see. Really wish I had gotten the chance to see him catching passes from Tommy B at some point. If somebody has to score on the Pats, I'm glad it's him.
  • Two players had a choreographed celebration! THE HORROR! Where's the integrity???
  • Definitely a kick in the teeth that the play that started to turn the game around for Arizona was made by the player New England traded to them for a draft pick and a guy who didn't even make the trip out west.
  • David Johnson is legit - holy jeez what a beast. Having a back of that size who can cut like that means I would be watching a lot more Cardinals games this year - if I hadn't made the decision not to watch anything besides Patriots games in 2016.
  • I guess I should be happy that Michaels and Collinsworth waited almost a full half before breaking down the Deflategate timeline. And thank Tebow that they did it, too - nobody has been paying attention to any of this and we all needed the refresher.
  • I'm OK with the Patriots running out the clock to end the half, even with 1:30 on the clock and all three timeouts. Jimmy G is no Tommy B, and there was no need to do anything too drastic.
  • Raise your hand if you had the Patriots going into the locker room with the lead at halftime. Everyone put your hands down.
  • It's important, however, to note the disparity between the first and third quarters, where the Patriots had a gameplan/adjustments installed and had Garoppolo ready for the looks he was going to receive, and the second and fourth quarters, when Arizona adjusted to the offense and production dropped. Jimmy G is going to need to factor those adjustments in and remain one step quicker.
  • Luckily, last night he faced the best defense he's going to face this year, and he was on the road.
  • Jimmy G, on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, completed a pass, caught a pass, and ran for a first down on his way to a TD. Has Brady ever done that?
  • It's touchdowns like the Blount TD that makes us all forgive him for the multitude of backfield stops and infuriating inability to pick up two yards on third and one. He might be the most streaky runner the Patriots have ever had, but when his wheels start churning, he's all but impossible to take down. Watching him harness his inner Billy Bob made him an early candidate for the Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2016 and the season isn't even a week old yet.
  • And how about my boy Joe Thuney pushing LeGarrette Blount into the end zone there?
  • Anytime anyone mentions the Jermaine Kearse catch in the Super Bowl, even all these years later and with the result set in stone, my butt puckers and stays that way for a good half hour (much to the delight of the girlfriend's olfactory system). I'd actually be OK never playing a game in Arizona ever again.
  • On the other hand... every time I hear anything about Pat Tillman, I'm reminded yet again that there are better men out there than I will ever be.
  • Oh touchdown/commercial/kickoff for touchback/commercial sandwich, I didn't miss you in the slightest.
  • Both of Arizona's early scores last night came off of short fields generated by turnovers, and the one that gave them the lead came off an absolutely MONSTER run by Johnson and Fitz doing Johnson and Fitz things. Tough to fault the defense for that. Overall, with a few exceptions, it was a stellar day for the D.
  • I also like that the Patriots went right back to Blount on the drive following his fumble. You need to credit Frostee Rucker for a textbook hit there as well.
  • Frostee Rucker is one of the more underrated football names out there.
  • So there's a JBL wireless headphones commercial that takes a poke at Deflategate. We all saw it, no need to rehash it. I can say that I appreciated it, but I'll also say that that could have been exactly what happened, Brady still would have gotten 4 games. And that blows.
  • can't hit QBs high or low. In an effort to prevent concussions, defenders take quarterbacks out at the thighs, and that's somehow a roughing the passer. I wonder what Cam Newton thought about that call.
  • Not sure how I feel about using Blount on the draw out of the shotgun. He has enough trouble getting going as it is without starting two yards in the backfield.
  • I'd ride Marcus Cannon for how thoroughly Calais Campbell worked him around last night...but Campbell is an absolute beast. Not really sure there was anything to be done. And to Cannon's credit, it's not like Campbell really got to Garoppolo, and he only registered three tackles, two solo. The stat sheet doesn't register what a disruptive presence he was, though, and he more or less shut down an entire side of running lanes.
  • The Patriots could have put this game away in the 4th quarter had a pair of penalties not derailed a very promising drive. I never in a million years thought I'd write that and that's a wonderful thing.
  • I don't think I'll be going to see Sully, but I do know this: this latest Tom Hanks movie in which he has some kind of travel disaster means I'm never going anywhere with that guy for as long as I live.
  • I was wondering what Peyton Manning was going to do with his time now that he's retired, but I need wonder no more: looks like he's going to finally start doing some commercials.
  • Once the Cardinals took the lead, they were able to play their game as opposed to try and beat New England at its own, and the difference was apparent. That's something else that needs to be taken care of moving forward.
  • I hope that 3rd and 15 conversion to Danny Amendola doesn't count as one of his small handful of absolutely massive plays. It seems wasted on Arizona and I'm not ready for it yet.
  • I didn't realize until late in the 4th how few screens to James White the Patriots called in and how little the tight ends were involved in the passing game. And what have we been saying all offseason? A new, shaky QB's best friends are screens and tight ends. If that doesn't give you all kinds of confidence in Garoppolo, I don't know what will.
  • Once again Blount can't close out a game.
  • Aaaand right after I wrote that Blount gains 13 on a huge 3rd and 11. Good for me!
  • Jimmy G drove down the field, converting some 3rd and longs, and left the field with the lead, on the road. This contest is over. Belichick is Coach of the Year. No need to vote in 2016, everyone.
  • Sadly, "no need to vote in 2016" could very easily be applied to other things going on this year. But this isn't a place to talk politics. So no politics. Seriously. The only reason I'm even leaving this note in is because I can see people taking the above comment about voting and applying it elsewhere. This is a football blog and let's stick to talking football.
  • The girlfriend's contribution to last night's watch: "why do they always circle their asses on the replays?" I wish I had an answer for her.
  • That final drive by Arizona was a thing of beauty, once again led by Fitzgerald. Not much to really do there but tip the ol' cap. You'd like to hope that the New England would be able to protect the field in situations like that, especially when the opposing offense starts from their own eight yard line with no timeouts left...but the Cardinals offense is no joke, and they just had the weapons and the ability and a Hall of Famer catching passes.
  • Then they lined up for that field goal, and...I don't know. I just kind of knew they were going to miss it. It was an NFL Sunday full of missed kicks that ended up screwing teams over. A few shanked extra points and gimme FGs pissed away was more or less the name of the game yesterday. And the fact that the distance - 47 yards - was the exact number where kicker Chandler Catanzaro starts to get shaky, it all starts to add up.
  • That didn't stop me from cheering like a maniac as the kick sailed wide left, though - primarily courtesy of a bad snap. You never realize how Belichick's emphasis on special teams pays off until you see little things like that happen.
  • A phrase I hope I get to close out every Fan Notes with for the next four weeks: Jimmy G, take a knee!
  • For the record and to hold myself accountable, both of my X-factors were Barkevious Mingo and AJ Derby. Neither registered on the stat sheet. #Fail.
  • Live look at Roger Goodell watching the end of this game.
  • And let the "trade Tom Brady" nonsense begin!
  • Not to mention the "Tom Brady is a system QB!" garbage. That's going to be a blast.
  • Also...if you're the kind of person who buys themseIves presents in order to celebrate a huge win, might I recommend making it this one. Genius.
  • Last but most certainly not least...yesterday marked the 15 year anniversary of September 11th, 2001. A day that this year's high school freshmen weren't even alive for, but will forever live on in our collective memories. Everyone of legal drinking age can remember exactly where they were that fateful Tuesday. And it's with that in mind that I say, with absolute certainty, that the fact that we were all able to watch this game from the comfort of our homes is an absolute gift that nobody should ever take for granted. Let's all keep in mind that this is football we're talking about here. This is a game. It's something we do to pass the time on Sundays. Our ability to take it so seriously and act like it's a matter of life and death goes a long way to illustrate just how great this country is.

Three at home, and then we get Brady back. Life is good.