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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Patriots keep playoff hopes alive by beating the Cardinals

Patriots keep playoff hopes alive by beating the Cardinals

Publish Date: 12/15/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The New England Patriots (7-6) re-enter the playoff picture after defeating the Arizona Cardinals (4-9) on the road on Monday night. While it was not all pretty, the Patriots snapped a two-game losing streak and look to build some momentum as we enter the final stretch.

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The Patriots were initially presented with a tough task before the game started, but just three plays in, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray went down with a right knee injury and did not return to the game. Early reports, including ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss, indicate that it is a torn ACL and Murray will be out for the rest of the season.

The Cardinals did not make it easy for the Patriots though, as they held a 13-7 lead with 36 seconds left in the first half. The Patriots would then put up 20 unanswered points en route to a 27-13 final score. Here are some immediate takeaways: Check out the top football odds.

Young Bucks Step Up For The Patriots

Β It has been a while since we have seen this amount of youth infused into a Patriots team. The Patriots received contributions from rookie running backs Pierre Strong Jr and Kevin Harris after running back Rhamondre Stevenson went down early with an ankle injury. Stevenson returned for a short period in the second quarter before ultimately heading into the locker room and not finishing the game. It was rough in the early going in the injury department, as both teams saw several key contributors go down early in the game.

Two more rookies played well on the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Tyquan Thornton and guard Cole Strange. Thornton tied his season-high in targets and catches and helped pick up an early first down, while Strange was excellent in run blocking and did not have too many gaffes in pass protection.

Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones recorded his first career interception on a night where he nearly doubled his career-high in snaps played. Third-year edge rusher Josh Uche has made a name for himself in the last month and a half, recording three sacks on Monday night to up his total to ten sacks in his last five games.

All in all, it is encouraging to see some of these younger players flash their potential and contribute to a team desperately needing a spark.

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The Offensive Struggles Continue Against a Questionable Defense

Β Many people believed this game would mirror the game against the Minnesota Vikings and expected some fireworks and room to run for the Patriots offense. Those beliefs did not come to fruition on Monday night, as the Patriots offense totalled 328 yards, averaging 5.8 yards a pop.

The start was far from ideal for the offense. The first possession was a four and-out, followed by a six-play, 31-yard drive that ended in a Mac Jones interception. Frankly, the Patriots were a bit lucky to only be down 3-0 after that point.

Frustration continued to show from Jones, who was repeatedly shown to be shouting expletives towards the Patriots sideline. After some choice words about the short game during their previous loss to the Buffalo Bills, it was more of the same from Patriots offensive play caller Matt Patricia.

Jones threw 13 of his 35 pass attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage, a career-high, and threw another eight attempts less than ten yards downfield. Jones was three for four on passes 15+ yards downfield, including two darts to tight end, Hunter Henry down the seams.

I did expect them to work the short game a lot this game, primarily because of the over-aggressive nature of the Cardinals defense, but it is clear that the Patriots offense needs to push the ball downfield to move the ball. Against a bottom-five defense, a better offensive performance was expected. Check out the top football betting strategies.

Can They Build Off Of This Performance?

Β None of those stats matter for the Patriots locker room. A win is a win in the NFL, especially at this time of year. The most crucial part of last night is they can build off this performance.

The Patriots are currently in the driver’s seat for the last wild card spot, but it is a tight race between a multitude of teams. Up next is another tougher-than-it-seems matchup at Las Vegas against former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Belichick’s track record against his former assistants has been spotty recently, posting a 5-9 record since 2018 against them.

This might be the best the team has felt about itself in quite some time though. The ESPN broadcast did a terrific job showcasing the positive emotions being displayed by Jones, Patricia and company. Can the good vibes continue into this pivotal stretch?

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