The Arizona Cardinals flew in with a record of 6-4, and flew out with one more in the loss column.
The New England Patriots defeated the NFC West visitors, 20-17, Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium as time expired and kicker Nick Folk’s field goal sailed through from 50 yards out.
Here’s a glance back on what went into it.
Newton’s interception-less streak ends on a day of nine completions
Cam Newton hadn’t thrown an interception since his trio on Oct. 25 versus the San Francisco 49ers. That streak ended at four games Sunday.
A third-down blitz by Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks led to a freeway to the quarterback on New England’s initial drive. The edges were chipped. The ball fluttered. And it landed in the grasp of awaiting outside linebacker Markus Golden. With a short field to go, Arizona struck on the first of two touchdown plunges from running back Kenyan Drake moments later.
Newton began the game 1-of-4 passing for 17 yards on a screen to former Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd. He finished it a shaky 9-of-18 for 84 yards, and with a second interception. It came down the left sideline via cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with 4:27 left in a tie game. But the New England offense got another chance on the heels of a missed field goal. A Newton scramble to move the chains brought a helmet-to-helmet penalty for unnecessary roughness against Arizona rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
Next round between Gilmore and Hopkins
DeAndre Hopkins was a Houston Texan the last time he crossed paths with Stephon Gilmore. It was 364 days, five catches on eight targets, a mix of man and zone coverage, a touchdown throw and some friction ago.
On Sunday, the NFL’s leader in receiving yards would circle back to the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year as a Cardinal.
Hopkins drew seven looks against the Patriots. Those looks became five completions for 55 yards. The perennial All-Pro wideout converted a pair of first downs in the first quarter and had four catches by halftime, including one in the slot opposite mismatched New England linebacker Terez Hall. Hopkins and Gilmore were flagged for offsetting pass interference in the fourth quarter. Later on in what was a 16-play drive, the corner was flagged for holding in the end zone. The Cardinals snapped 17 unanswered points shortly thereafter.
New England rotates without Wynn at left tackle
No member of the New England offense had been on the field for more snaps this season than Isaiah Wynn. The starting left tackle saw a total of 640 before getting rolled up in the fourth quarter last week. And a week out of practice followed before Wynn went on injured reserve Saturday amid a series of moves.
In his absence versus Arizona, the Patriots started Jermaine Eluemunor on the blindside, Joe Thuney at left guard, David Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard and versatile Michigan product Mike Onwenu at right tackle.
Wynn’s Pro Football Focus offensive grade ranked eighth among the league’s tackles through 10 starts. It was Eluemunor who stepped in following his knee injury the Sunday prior. But rookie Justin Herron out of Wake Forest would rotate in after being greenlit from injured reserve on the eve of the 1 p.m. ET kickoff.
In first stop by Foxborough, Murray kept in check
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray entered Sunday having amassed 2,644 yards through the air, 619 yards on the ground and 29 combined touchdowns.
In his debut against New England, the Cape Cod Baseball League alum experienced a little of everything.
Murray connected on his opening six passes, yet finished 23-of-34 for 170 yards with no touchdowns. He ran for 31 yards on a handful of carries as the meeting wore on. But midway through the third quarter, the top pick in the 2019 NFL draft found himself picked off on a play that involved past undrafted free agents. Defensive tackle Adam Butler, back in the lineup after missing the first contest of his Patriots tenure, deflected a pass that safety Adrian Phillips gloved. New England took the lead off of the turnover. And on the next series, Butler took down his first sack of the year.
Standard elevations plug in and play
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief and defensive tackle Akeem Spence are scheduled to revert to the New England practice squad on Monday. But both standard elevations made a case where they were on Sunday.
Moncrief, who played a dozen snaps on special teams versus the Texans, proceeded to take over for incumbent kick returner Gunner Olszewski versus the Cardinals. And along the way came a 53-yard pickup in that role to set up points. Moncrief, at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, would also occupy ground in punt protection during an outing in which Olszewski had his first career TD called back by a blindside block.
And Spence, who celebrated his 29th birthday spelling in at the nose of the New England defense, held up against the run in a No. 52 jersey. Heading into intermission, he helped keep an Arizona touchdown off the board during a shotgun handoff on fourth down that became a goal-line stand. A 6-foot-1, 303-pound veteran of 104 NFL games, Spence had signed to the scout team last week after going without a roster this fall.
A Harris-White backfield plan for the Patriots
Three running backs would be on hand for the Patriots. And with Rex Burkhead’s 40 percent share of the downs lost to a season-ending knee injury, Sony Michel made his return to the active depth chart.
But the former first-round arrival did so as insurance behind starter Damien Harris while captain James White saw an increased share of the blitz pickup.
Michel did not handle the ball. He got his lone rep as a decoy on a zone read in the final minute of the first quarter instead. Harris managed 47 yards on 14 tries as the lead back between the tackles. And outside of them, White totaled 17 yards of offense to go with his first and second touchdowns of the campaign. White had averaged north of six scores per regular season dating back to 2015. On a fourth-down pitch and a third-down toss Sunday, his counted.