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Cardinals benefit from Pats return penalty, hurt by stuffed 4th down

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts against the New England Patriots during the second quarter of the game at Gillette Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

A fourth-down stop by the New England Patriots on the final play of the first half and a early second-half penalty marked key swing moments in the Arizona Cardinals’ visit to Gillette Stadium.

Kliff Kingsbury went for it with ticks left in the first half and the Cardinals sitting on the Patriots 1-yard line.

The Pats were ready.

A heavy package for Arizona couldn’t pave enough space for running back Kenyan Drake to rush up the middle for a touchdown that would put Arizona ahead 17-7. The Cardinals instead went to the locker room empty-handed and up 10-7 at Gillette Stadium after a review couldn’t confirm that the ball crossed the plane.

The key play was curious on a few fronts.

For one, Kyler Murray had rushed once for -2 yards as Arizona appeared to keep his shoulder injury suffered a week prior out of harm’s way. So maybe that explains why Murray wasn’t involved in the fourth-down decision.

The Cardinals had two other chances to score on what ended as a 15-play, 71-yard drive that cooked 6:57 off the game clock at the end of the half.

On 2nd-and-goal from eight yards out two plays prior, Murray threw a strike in the chest of receiver Christian Kirk. He couldn’t make the reception while sliding to the turf in the end zone.

Little-used receiver KeeSean Johnson on the next play caught a 7-yard completion and stretched the ball out over the goal line, but a review showed his knee was down before he reached the ball out for a score.

After a quickly stalled Cardinals possession to start the third quarter, New England appeared to be in business on the Arizona punt.

Gunner Olszewski’s 82-yard punt return appeared to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead, but a blindside block just before he reached the end zone by Anfernee Jennings negated the return. New England would only score a field goal, tying the game at 10 points apiece instead.

The call was letter of the law correct, according to FOX rules analyst Dean Blandino, but in practice it was questionable to say the least.


Phillips Law Group

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