News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 PFF ReFocused: New England Patriots 20, Arizona Cardinals 17

Nov 29, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (51) celebrates with New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty (32) after a goal line stand during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The 4-6 New England Patriots upset the 6-4 Arizona Cardinals in a lengthy defensive bout, 20-17, in Week 12. Neither quarterback was able to provide their team points through the air, and both turned the ball over. But it was Cam Newton who made just enough plays to earn the Patriots their fifth win of the season. 

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

It was a far cry from an offensive shootout in New England this week, as both teams could not reach 300 yards of total offense. In fact, neither the Patriots nor the Cardinals had a play gain at least 20 yards all game, with the longest play being a 53-yard kick return by Donte Moncrief. Patriots punt returner Gunner Olszewski also took a punt 82 yards to the house, but it was called back due to an illegal blindside block by rookie Anfernee Jennings

Although New England pulled off the victory, many questions remain about Newton and the offense. He now has just four passing touchdowns in 10 games played while totaling over 200 passing yards in only three games. Against the Cardinals, he completed just nine of his 18 passes for 84 yards, no scores and two interceptions, including one with under five minutes remaining in the contest. 

The running game did not fare much better, with Newton, Damien Harris and James White averaging just under 4 yards per carry. An 18-yard run by Harris proved to be the longest of the day for New England. The Patriots were down 10-0 upon the conclusion of the first quarter but were able to rally, rattling off 17 unanswered points entering the final period. Despite being shut out in the final quarter, credit Newton and company for setting up Nick Folk for a 50-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired. 

As much as the Patriots won the game, the Cardinals lost it. Kyler Murray attempted 34 passes but managed only 5 yards per attempt en route to zero touchdowns and an interception off a batted pass. He ran the ball five times for 31 yards but could not reach the end zone — just the third time this season he was held without a rushing touchdown. 

Kenyan Drake took his 22 carries for 78 yards and two scores, though he was stuffed less than a yard away from the end zone on the final play before halftime. Chase Edmonds played second fiddle to Drake, receiving just 10 total touches for 43 scoreless yards. 

DeAndre Hopkins was the only receiver of note today, and even then, he had only five catches for 55 yards, further highlighting just how poor of an offensive performance the Cardinals pieced together. 

The Patriots continue to hang around in the AFC East division race, though with the Bills defeating the Chargers and the Dolphins knocking off the Jets, it has become increasingly unlikely that New England will find itself in the 2020 playoffs. 

Nov 29, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Kyle Dugger (35) tackles Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

ROOKIE WATCH

Offensive lineman Michael Onwenu and safety Kyle Dugger were the only rookies to earn 20-plus snaps for either team. Onwenu did not allow a pressure on 21 snaps in pass protection, though he was beaten by his defender once. Dugger made three tackles against the run, with two being defensive stops. He also missed a tackle and allowed two targets to be caught in his coverage for 13 yards, but it was an overall solid outing for the second-rounder out of Lenoir-Rhyne.

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