After a week one game on the road against Tennessee that saw the Patriots go 1-0 with a 34-13 win, oddsmakers in Las Vegas upped the Patriots to being 5-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl this season. But if the Patriots play the way they did yesterday, it’s possible those odds will drop.
On a weekend when former wide receiver Troy Brown was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, emotions were riding high. Add to that the fact that the Patriots had not lost a home opener since Gillette Stadium opened and it almost seemed a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would be 2-0 heading into their week three battle with the Baltimore Ravens. All they needed to do was beat the Arizona Cardinals.
After giving up an early field goal, the Patriots took the field for their first possession of the day… and promptly had the first pass of the day intercepted. This would be the first of many things that went wrong for Tom Brady and the Pats over the next four quarters.
On their second series, Aaron Hernandez was blocking during a play and had his ankle rolled up on. He left the game and did not return. He later left the stadium on crutches.
The offensive line also didn’t have a good day, allowing Brady to be sacked three times. The defense did a great job, though, allowing only the two field goals in the first half. But the loss of Hernandez seemed to really affect the Pats gameplan, as they just didn’t seem to be able to get things going on offense. The score going into halftime was 9-3, Patriots.
In the second half, things really started to fall apart. Another slow start, lapses on defense and penalties led to a pair of touchdowns for the visiting Cardinals. The Patriots got another field goal and wound up running a hurry up offense with time quickly running out in the fourth quarter. They managed to score a touchdown with a pass over the middle to Rob Gronkowski, making the score 20-18, but failed to get the 2-point conversion.
With less than two minutes left, fans started to file out of Gillette stadium, feeling the game was over. But with just over a minute to play, while trying to run out the clock, Cardinals running back Ryan Williams coughed up the ball on a hit from Brandon Spikes and Vince Wilfork recovered, setting the Patriots up with good field position and sending departing fans scrambling back to their seats.
The Patriots attempted to move the ball closer to the end zone and even got what would have been the game winning touchdown, but it was called back due to a borderline holding penalty called on Rob Gronkowski. Another Gronkowski penalty for a false start caused the ball to be placed on the Arizona 23 and after getting the ball centered and spiking it, the kicking team was brought on to go for the win. Stephen Gostkowski had already made four field goals from 31. 46, 51 and 53 yards, so the 42 yard attempt to win the game should have been easy in comparison… should being the operative word. The kick sailed very wide left and the Patriots, along with their fans, were left stunned as Cards quarterback Kevin Kolb took a knee to end the game, handing the Patriots a shocking first season opening loss at Gillette.
Reports are that Hernandez suffered a high ankle sprain and will likely be out until sometime in October. In the meantime, Wes Welker was being targeted more after being nearly absent in game one and the first half of game two. He finished with five receptions on eleven targets and 95 yards receiving. The team of Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower once again did well, with Jones repeatedly beating defenders to pressure the quarterback and Hightower making three solo tackles including one for a loss.
The Patriots play next on Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, who also suffered a surprising loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, causing them have an identical 1-1 record to start the season.