By David McDonnell

The Patriots have been going under the radar all season but with four weeks of the regular season to go, they find themselves in play-off positions as the seventh seed in the AFC. 

Their task on Monday Night Football was to win on the road against the Cardinals and their task got a lot easier when Kyler Murray suffered what looked like a serious non-contact injury.  He was karted off the field only a minute and 21 seconds into the contest and was replaced by veteran QB Colt McCoy.

The New England offence has been one dimensional throughout this season playing a traditional smashmouth football style of offence and when Rhamondre Stevenson also left the fray with an injury, it meant that the Pats were without their two starting running backs as Damien Harris was already ruled out pregame.  

At the time I wondered if we would see a change of approach to the Pats offence and I got a definitive answer of No!!!

Instead the Patriots leaned on their two rookie running-backs and that approach was rewarded when sixth round rookie Kevin Harris got the first touchdown of the game and his career.

In the second quarter James Conor managed to run through the middle of a pile and out the other side for a touchdown, while being tackled by Devin McCourty. 

The Pats added to field goals to leave the score 13-13 at half time. 

That was as good as it got for the Cardinals on the night as the New England defence took over in the second half. 

A defensive touchdown gave them a seven-point lead when DeAndre Hopkins fumbled the ball while holding it in one hand, and Raekwon McMillan returned it for a 23-yard score.

Rookie Marcus Jones, who has caught the eye in recent weeks scoring touchdowns on special teams and on offence, then got his first interception of the season, which must be some kind of record.

Later in the drive Mac Jones found Hunter Henry for 39 yards to set up first and goal. At the start of the fourth quarter rookie running-back Pierre Strong, who went on a 44 yard run in the first half, also got his first touchdown of his career to make it a two-score game.

The Cardinals never threatened after as the Patriots defence dominated. In the end they finished with six sacks, three for Josh Uche, an interception and the forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown. 

Bill Belichick has a talented group of young players in New England. If they can add a few pieces to the offence in the off-season, it won’t be very long until they are back in Superbowl conversations. 

For now, with a 7-6 record, the play-offs will do. 

The Chargers and the Jets rate the same in the win-loss column and it should be an interesting race between the three teams to see who is still playing football after Week 18.

Of the three, my two-cents would be on the Chargers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s