Jimmy Garoppolo proved to be capable on Sunday in the New England Patriots' first season opener without Tom Brady starting since 2001, but it was a botched field goal that allowed them to open their season with a win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Stephen Gostkowski connected on a late field goal to give the Pats a 23-21 lead, just minutes after Larry Fitzgerald put the Cardinals (0-1) up 21-20 with his 100th-career touchdown reception. Gotskowski had connected on two field goals earlier in the game -- the longest of which was a 53-yarder early in the fourth quarter -- opening his 11th season as a Patriot on a positive note.
Trailing by 2 late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals drove 63 yards, looking to reclaim the lead. Chandler Catanazaro lined up a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play, but it had sailed wide left, allowing the Patriots (1-0) to kneel down and end what could very well be a preview of Super Bowl LI with a win.
Thrown into the fire against a stalwart Cardinals defense in their own home building, Garoppolo completed 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. He connected with Chris Hogan on a 37-yard pass to open the scoring at 7:34 of the first quarter, on the Pats' first offensive drive.
LeGarrette Blount led the Patriots on the ground, with 22 carries for 70 yards. Julian Edelman caught all seven passes thrown his way for 66 yards.
Entering his 13th NFL season, Carson Palmer completed 24 of 37 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 81 yards, while second-year running back David Johnson ran for 89 yards on 16 carries.
Facing the Pats after the March 15 trade that sent him to the Cardinals, Chandler Jones recorded five tackles -- one of which was a sack of Garoppolo. Tony Jefferson led the Cardinals with 10 tackles, while Devin McCourty recorded 10 tackles of his own to lead the Patriots.
The Pats had entered the game shorthanded, as they were missing two offensive linemen (Nate Solder and Jonathan Cooper) as well as tight end Rob Gronkowski. Martellus Bennett caught three passes for 14 yards in 'Gronk's' place, and provided a valuable blocking presence.
The Patriots next welcome Miami to Gillette Stadium next Sunday, opening both the home portion and the AFC East portion of their schedule. It will begin a three-game homestand in Foxboro.
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