The New England Patriots made some big plays in all three phases of their 20-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but the offense as a whole still struggled even despite eventually putting together a game-winning drive in the late fourth quarter. It turned the football over twice, gained just 179 total yards, and finished with a 36-percent success rate on third down.
Throughout the day, Cam Newton and company just failed to get into much of a rhythm. And yet, the Patriots were able to add another “W” to their win column to keep their hopes of reaching the postseason alive. And as Newton pointed out after the game, that is all that matters in the grand scheme of things.
“I said in the locker room, I’d rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss, if that makes sense. I don’t know if that even exists,” the Patriots’ starting quarterback said during a media conference call. “We didn’t play our best game offensively, but when we needed it we got the job done and that’s all that counts.”
The Patriots getting the job done on either side of the ball is no certainty this season. Just last week, for example, the team moved the ball versus the Houston Texans but eventually came up short: the defense did not make enough stops, while the offense was unable to put together a potential game-tying drive late during the game. Against Arizona, meanwhile, enough plays were made despite the opponent’s statistical superiority.
Cam Newton’s numbers are a prime example of that. The 31-year-old finished the game just 9-of-18 as a passer for 84 yards and two interceptions. However, he also added 46 yards on nine carries — including 14 yards on a 3rd-and-13 to keep the game-winning drive alive.
“We have to stack them together and that’s what it pretty much comes down to: finding ways to win football games,” said Newton about the game. “It’s better to find ways to win with situational football in gotta-have-it situations rather than just playing the game just to play the game. Coach [Bill Belichick] does a great job with harping on that throughout the week as well as Josh [McDaniels] and all the position coaches.
“For it to come into fruition and for us to come out on top is great.”
Situational and complementary football are some key phrases for the Patriots regardless of the opponent, but against Arizona the team found some encouraging success in those areas. Heading into the final five games of the season and with the playoffs still an achievable goal even at 5-6, Newton pointed out that his team will “need more of it” moving forward.
“Offensively, we didn’t have our best game, but the defense picked up the slack as well as special teams — having some big returns from ‘Gun Show’ [Gunner Olszewski] and ‘Crief’ [Donte Moncrief]; those guys really took heed to coaching this past week,” he said. “We really just need more complementary football wins here moving forward as we get into the gotta-have-it situations of the season.”