Sitting at 4-6 and with their playoff hopes having taken a major hit just last Sunday against the Houston Texans, the New England Patriots were in dire need of a win versus the visiting Arizona Cardinals in Week 12. They got just that by playing some good complementary football at times to eventually win with a final score of 20-17 on a last-second field goal.
While the game was certainly not a perfect one for the Patriots — their offense was inconsistent throughout the day, for example, and turned the football over twice — they still made the plays they had to make in order to bounce back in the perfect fashion: with a hard-fought victory over a talented opponent. It was therefore not surprising to see Bill Belichick come out and praise his team’s performance after its fifth win of the season.
“A good win for our football team today. Contributions in all three phases. We played good complementary football, took advantage of some opportunities,” said the Patriots’ head coach during his postgame media conference call. “Just have to give these guys a lot of credit, how hard they work every day, how well they prepare. The game couldn’t have started much worse than it did, but we just kept battling for 60 minutes.
“Players showed a lot of toughness — a lot of mental toughness, physical toughness, and just determination. Played some decent situational football at times. I’m really proud of the way these guys competed. Give them all the credit in the world for the final result. They played hard, competed for 60 minutes and made enough plays at critical times in the game to win.”
New England’s list of big, momentum-swinging plays against the Cardinals is a long one. Whether it is some timely kick returns by Donte Moncrief and Gunner Olszewski, defensive turnovers on downs and through the air, or a well-executed third down run by quarterback Cam Newton on the game-winning drive, the Patriots were able to step up to the challenge on multiple occasions.
Belichick contributed this to the players he has within his team’s locker room, and the role that the elected leaders and more experienced members have recently played.
“The leadership we’ve got from captains and some of the other veteran players here in the last few weeks has been awesome,” said Belichick about the team chemistry in what has proven to be a challenging season for New England. “I think that’s really helped bring some other players along to prepare better and ultimately perform a little more consistently.”
While they are now 5-6, the Patriots remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the race for spots in the postseason. Every game coming down the stretch is therefore of the utmost important, beginning with a two-game road trip to Los Angeles in Weeks 13 and 14: New England will play the Chargers next Sunday, followed by a game against the Rams on the following Thursday night.
Belichick is therefore slowly but steadily turning his attention to the challenge that awaits his club as it heads into the homestretch of its season.
“Good way to wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend,” he said. “We have two big games in L.A. next week, but try to enjoy this one for a little while before we move on to the Chargers.”