Even without their stars and other starters, the New England Patriots proved they are no pushovers when playing shorthanded.
Just ask the Arizona Cardinals, who on Sunday night fell 23-21 in the season opener for both teams at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“I’m happy to win, fortunate to win,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “We’re going to need to play better next week and succeeding weeks.”
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY
However, it was good enough to earn a road victory over a team that went 13-3 a year ago and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Playing without suspended quarterback Tom Brady, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, suspended defensive end Rob Ninkovich and two starting offensive linemen, the Patriots rode the arm of Jimmy Garoppolo and the leg of kicker Stephen Gostkowski to deal Arizona their first home loss in September since 2009.
The Cardinals rallied from a 10-0 first-quarter deficit and eventually took the lead with 9 minutes, 46 seconds left to play when Carson Palmer threw a 1-yard fade pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the corner of the end zone. Chandler Catanzaro’s extra point made it 21-20, Arizona.
However, Garoppolo, charged with replacing Brady during the future Hall of Famer’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in the “Deflategate” controversy, brought his team back and proved the Las Vegas oddsmakers, who listed New England as nine-point underdogs, to be dead wrong.
He guided the Patriots on a 13-play, 61-yard drive that was capped by Gostkowski’s third field goal of the game, a 32-yarder, with 3 minutes, 44 seconds remaining. Gostkowski also connected from 47 and 53 yards.
“He’s incredible,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said of Garoppolo. “All game he went out there and made the plays he was supposed to make. We knew as a team. We believed in him. There was no doubt in this locker room that Jimmy could go out there and play.”
The Cardinals had a chance to win it, driving to the Patriots’ 29-yard line in the final minute of play. However, Catanzaro was wide left on a 47-yard field-goal attempt. The snap from rookie Kameron Canaday was low to holder Drew Butler, which threw Catanzaro off.
The Patriots took over with 41 seconds remaining and ran out the clock to seal the win.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first