Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball while pressured by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Cameron Thomas (97) during the third quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots 27, Cardinals 13
The Patriots have entered themselves into the AFC playoff picture with a 27-13 win over the Cardinals in Arizona. The Pats took over in the second half, holding Arizona scoreless and piling on a pair of touchdowns in the latter half.
New England found success with their pass rush and running game. They were able to sack Colt McCoy six times and controlled the game on the ground. After Rhamondre Stevenson went down, Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris each found the end zone leading the Patriots’ rushing attack.
Mac Jones finished 24-of-35 for 235 yards and an interception. Mac made a pair of big plays to his big tight end Hunter Henry to set up critical scores.
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray went down early in the game, and it did not look good. The Cardinals ran with Colt McCoy, who struggled to move the ball consistently. He finished 27-of-40 for 246 yards and an interception.
The game would get off to a potentially season-crumbling note for the Cardinals. On the first drive of the game, Kyler Murray would injure himself on a noncontact play where he needed to be carted off the field. He would not return to the game, and by the looks of it, his injury could be significant.
After a scoreless first quarter, Arizona struck the board first, taking advantage of a Mac Jones interception. The Cardinals would lead a seven-play drive that ended in a 33-yard Matt Prater field goal putting them 3-0 early in the second quarter.
The Patriots would answer right back and take the lead on their next possession as they finally found some offensive momentum. New England found pay dirt after an eight-play drive with a 14-yard scamper from Kevin Harris, giving them a 7-3 lead.
Arizona would put up another field goal on their next drive, narrowing the deficit to just one early in the second quarter. A 32-yard field goal would make the score 7-6 as Arizona started to surge back with Colt McCoy at quarterback.
Arizona’s first touchdown came on their next drive, giving them a 13-7 lead. The Cardinals led a seven-play drive resulting in a 10-yard touchdown run from James Conner with three minutes to play in the half.
After trading unsuccessful drives, the Patriots would put some points on the board before halftime. A 30-yard strike to Hunter Henry and a near-lost fumble would lead to a 51-yard Nick Folk field goal as the clock expired, ending the half with Arizona in front 13-10.
To start the second half, New England would immediately tie the score on their first possession. After a nine-play drive, a 22-yard field goal would tie the score 13-13 five minutes into the third quarter. This started their second-half run.
New England’s defense got involved later in the third, scoring a touchdown of their own. Still deep in their own territory, DeAndre Hopkins would fumble, allowing Pats linebacker Raekwon McMillan to scoop and score it, giving the Patriots a 20-13 lead with just under six minutes left in the third.
The Patriots would continue to add to their lead on their following drive with another touchdown. After another big play from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry, Pierre Strong would punch in a three-yard touchdown, giving the Patriots a 27-13 lead a minute into the fourth quarter.
New England would hold that lead until the clock hit triple-zeros as they move up into the Wild Card at 7-6. Arizona drops to 4-9 on the year with their quarterback likely out for the season.
The Patriots will stay out West as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders next week. Arizona will head up North to Denver to play the Broncos.