Sunday’s season opener between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals matched who many think will be playing in Super Bowl 51 at the end of the season.
With no Tom Brady — suspended for his role in “deflategate” — and without star tight end Rob Gronkowski either, the Patriots went on the road and pulled out a remarkable 23-21 victory over the Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Jimmy Garoppolo, who was filling in for Brady and making his first career start, led the Pats nearly the length of the field to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 23-yard field goal which turned out to be the game-winner with just under four minutes left to play.
Arizona nearly came right back, but Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with just under a minute to play as the Pats escaped with the victory.
“I am really proud of our team tonight,” Pats head coach Bill Belichick told reporters after teh game. “I thought we got great effort from all three phases. We played a good complimentary game.”
Garoppolo completed 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards with no interceptions. He never seemed rattled.
Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, both to Larry Fitzgerald.
New England: The Pats welcome the Miami Dolphins to town in its first home game of the season. The Dolphins (0-1) are coming off a 12-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Arizona: The Cardinals will look to regroup as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) who picked up a 31-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons last week.