How Cardinals bottled up Tom Brady, Patriots
|09.16.12 at 9:56 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady earned his 46th career 300-yard game on Sunday. The Patriots quarterback passed Johnny Unitas for 13th place on the NFL’s all-time passing list with 40,531 yards. But after Brady completed 28-of-46 passes for 316 yards, one touchdown and an interception, it was the Cardinals who were celebrating their defensive effort against the Patriots star signal caller.
“I want to win games sitting back enjoying them, but we just tend to win close games,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “That builds a lot of character and the guys responded to a game plan that they executed flawlessly, they really did.”
The Cardinals sacked Brady four times and held Brady to a 79.6 rating. And they did all of this without much of a blitz package all game.
“The guys up front, we challenged our guys up front to win the game for us,” Horton said. “When you look at their team (Patriots) and their salary and their structure, their (Patriots) superstars are their outside guys and our guys are inside. So we said we needed another big week from our inside guys and they did. I almost didn’t blitz at all.”
Brady had a miserable first half, completing just seven of 12 attempts for 75 yards, with three sacks, one interception and a QB rating of 42.0.
“It felt great and to come against a future Hall of Famer it felt even better,” Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves added. “It’s kind of like a burden has been lifted off my shoulder. When so many people said I couldn’t do it, and so many didn’t want to give me a chance. I think Rod Graves, coach Ken Whisenhunt, coach Ray Horton, and doach Frank Reich all believed in me and gave me a shot. I can only thank God, and for me believing in my abilities as well. ”
One of the biggest plays came when veteran safety Kerry Rhodes knocked away a potential game-tying two-point conversion away from Rob Gronkowski after Gronkowski scored New England’s only touchdown of the game.
“I had man-to-man on that play and I was able to be physical with him down there, because he (Gronkowski) is a physical guy,” Rhodes said of his two-point defense. “I got my hands on him and when I got my hands on him I knew, I looked up and saw Brady looking at him so I took him the whole way.”
Meanwhile, here was Tom Brady’s Q and A with reporters after his first ever home opening loss at Gillette Stadium.
Q: You guys got so close and had a chance to win. Were you surprised that Stephen Gostkowski missed that field goal?
TB: Well, it’s a team game and certainly we shouldn’t have been leaving it up to that particular situation. We were fortunate to get that defensive turnover there late. We just came up short. We have opportunities to make plays and we’re just not making them. Just too inconsistent throughout the day to really put enough points on the board.
Q: How much did losing Aaron Hernandez change the game plan?
TB: Who knows? We have an offense with him in the game and without him in the game. Guys go in and out and you lose guys over the course of a game and you have to be able to adjust. I’m sure he’s not going to be the only one we lose this year at some point, but we have to figure out a way to still move the ball effectively throughout the course of the game – enough where we can score more than 18 points.
Q: Anything that Arizona was doing that you hadn’t seen much heading into the game?
TB: No, I think it played out the way we thought it would play out. They have a good defense and they certainly put a lot of pressure on you to make good plays and they really don’t give you easy ones. We made some; we just didn’t make enough at the end of the day.
Q: How does the decision get made that 42 yards is close enough? You might have been able to get closer.
TB: Yeah. It’s just a decision that Coach makes. I think we were a little closer and we had a penalty there that moved us back five more. You know, penalties hurt us a few times today. Like I said, offensively, when you don’t play well and you don’t play consistently, if you’re not going to get a big play, then you have to drive the ball and you can’t drive the ball if you’re always two steps forward, one step back. That’s the way it felt today. We’d get the drive going and then there would be a negative play and we’d be forced to try to make a miraculous play to get back on track. It just wasn’t a very good day in that sense.
Q: When you guys are in your two receiver sets, what does Julian Edelman bring to that position that makes the offense effective?
TB: Julian has been very consistent over the course of the entire season, so he’s getting opportunities to be out there and make certain plays and I have to find ways to continue to get those guys the ball. We have a good group at receiver, a good group of tight ends. We hopefully have a better offense than the way we played today; we just didn’t play consistently.
Q: What are your thoughts on Wes Welker breaking Troy Brown’s franchise record for receptions?
TB: He’s a phenomenal player and when he makes plays, it really sparks our whole offense and he made a bunch of them today. That’s what we need. We just have to do a little bit more to get the ball in the end zone.
Q: Are you on board with Julian Edelman playing in front of Wes Welker?
TB: Like I said, those three guys rotate a lot, so there are plays that Julian is in there for; there are a lot of plays that Wes is in there for. I love both those guys and they both work really hard. That’s always Coach’s decision; who’s out there, that’s not really my decision.
Q: When a game ends like this, is there anything you feel you need to say to Stephen Gostkowski?
TB: No, I mean, you miss kicks, you throw interceptions, you fumble the ball, you miss tackles. Over the course of a long season, those things happen. There’s no one play that lost the game; we did a lot of things that allowed us to lose this game. We had a lot of opportunity out there to make more plays than we did. Hopefully it never comes down to a 42-yard field goal at the end. Hopefully we do a better job on offense so it’s not that kind of game at the end.
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