The Patriots pulled off an adventurous win against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Patriots defense, and perhaps Kyler Murray’s injured shoulder, was the key to victory. The high scoring Arizona offense was held to 17 points and one of those touchdown drives came on a short field after a Cam Newton interception. The key moment of the game, and the one that could have saved the Patriots’ season, was a goal line stand at the end of the second quarter.
New England stopped Arizona on four plays from inside the 10-yard line including 4th and goal at the one as time expired in the half. At the time, Arizona led 10-7 and were on the verge of a 10 point lead. They also received the kickoff to open the second half. With the way the Patriots offense has played this season, a touchdown there could have ended the game.
New England got lucky on second down, when Christian Kirk was unable to secure a potential open touchdown pass, but the defense made two great plays on third and fourth down. On third down, Murray completed a pass to KeeSean Johnson and he broke toward the end zone. A battle ensued at the one-yard line. Johnson reached the ball across the plane but was taken down at the one before he got the ball across. It was a high effort play from the Patriots to keep him out led by Jason McCourty, Adam Butler and Lenzy Pipkins.
The Cardinals had the ball at one on fourth down in what would be the final snap of the half. They elected to go for the touchdown. Arizona is extremely difficult to stop inside the five; they have a dynamic quarterback, talented running backs and a great group of Wide Receivers led by DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona figured it could run over the leaky Patriots run defense for one yard to take a two score lead. Lawrence Guy had other ideas. Guy took on a double team and Akeem Spence also got pressure upfield, which allowed Ja’Whaun Bentley to hit Kenyan Drake behind the line and eventually move him in to a pile of Patriots at the one.
If the Patriots do end up sneaking into the playoffs, this four play sequence will be a major factor in putting them there. The New England defense, which has been inconsistent all year, stepped up and saved the game for the Patriots and potentially the season.