We saw a lot of good things from the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. With the win, they accomplished a lot of things. After the jump are many tidbits about what the win meant for the defense and special teams unit in particular.
In particular, you will note that the Cardinals are now tied for the best record in the league over their last 11 games. The defense is awesome and, well...just read on!
NINE IN ELEVEN
The Cardinals 20-18 victory over the Patriots improves the team's record to 9-2 over the last 11 games dating back to the 2011 season. That ties New England, Green Bay and San Francisco for the best record in the NFL in that span.
Best Record in the NFL-Last 11 Games
8-3 New Orleans
TAKING DOWN THE PATS AT GILLETTE
With the 20-18 victory over the Patriots, the Cardinals handed New England their first-ever loss in a home opener at Gillette Stadium. Before the loss to Arizona, the Patriots had a perfect 10-0 record in home openers since 2002. Prior to the loss to Arizona yesterday, the Patriots last loss in a home opener came in 2001 to the Jets. That was the game Drew Bledsoe got hurt and led to Tom Brady taking over as starter.
With the win in New England
The Cardinals snapped a five-game losing streak to the Patriots and earned the team's first win in New England since 1984 (33-10). It was the first victory against the Pats since a 24-10 victory in Arizona in 1991.
The Cardinals handed the Patriots just their 14th loss at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. Entering the game, New England had a 67-13 record (.838) on their home field, which represented the best winning percentage of any team at a stadium since 1970 (min. 25 games).
Patriots QB Tom Brady entered Sunday's game with a 35-1 record in his previous 36 home starts. His only other loss came at the hands of the NY Giants on 11/16/11.
The Cardinals handed Pats head coach Bill Belichick his first loss to a team from the NFC West since the realignment in 2002. Entering yesterday's game, Belichick held an 8-0 record against the division dating back to ‘02.
Arizona's victory marks just the Patriots second home loss to a team from the NFC dating back to 2006 (11/6/11 vs. NYG, 24-20). New England entered yesterday's game with a 38-6 record against teams from the NFC dating back to 2001.
UNDEFEATED IN THE WEST
In addition to the Cardinals 20-18 victory over the Patriots, the Seahawks defeated the Cowboys (27-7), the Rams took down the Redskins (31-28) and the 49ers defeated the Lions (27-19), giving the NFC West a perfect 4-0 record in week two. It marked the first time all four teams won in the same week since week 10 of the 2011 season.
The NFC West was the only division to sweep their four games in week two. With a 6-2 record through the first two weeks, the NFC West has more wins than any division in the NFL. The NFC East comes in second with a 5-3 record.
ANOTHER BLOCKED KICK
The Cardinals have earned a reputation for blocking FGAs over the last few years, leading the league with 13 blocks dating back to 2008. However, in Sunday's win over New England it was a blocked punt that led directly to seven points for the Cardinals. When LB Quentin Groves blocked Zoltan Mesko's punt attempt inside the Patriots 10-yard line in the third quarter, the ball went out of bounds at the Patriots two-yard line and the Cardinals scored their first TD three plays later.
The blocked punt was the first of Groves' career and it was the first for the Cardinals since Sean Morey memorably blocked a punt by Dallas' Mat McBriar in an OT win vs. the Cowboys on 10/12/08.
For the Cardinals, it was their 15th blocked kick dating back to 2008 (13 FGs, 2 punts), the most in the NFL. Arizona leads the NFL with two blocked kicks in 2012. In addition to the blocked punt yesterday, DE Calais Campbell blocked a Seattle FG in week one.
Most Blocked Kicks (FG, PAT, Punt) - 2008-2012
Block Team Type
15 Arizona FG (13), Punt (2)
14 Seattle FG (9), Punt (4), PAT11
Chicago FG (5), PAT (4), Punt (2)
10 NY Giants FG (5), PAT (5)
Tampa Bay Punt (5), PAT (3), FG (2)
Yesterday's blocked punt was the sixth blocked kick for the Cardinals in their last 11 games (5 FG, punt).
The Cardinals gave some of the NFL's best kickers fits during the 2011 season, as the team's propensity for blocking kicks has become well known. Standouts such as Bengals K Mike Nugent, San Francisco's David Akers and Dallas' Dan Bailey all had struggles against Arizona last season. In yesterday's win, Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski-the most accurate kicker in franchise history-missed a 42-yard FG attempt with one second left that sealed the Cards 20-18 victory. Prior to missing the potential game-winner, Gostkowski had made 38 consecutive fourth quarter field goals in the regular season.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES
Following a four-point week one victory over Seattle, the Cardinals came out victorious in yet another close decision with their 20-18 win at New England yesterday. Dating back to the 2010 season, Arizona's last 11 wins have all been decided by seven points or fewer. The average margin of victory in those games was 3.7 points. In the Cardinals last five games, four have come down to the final play, with all four being wins for Arizona.
The Cardinals played in an NFL-high 13 games that were decided by seven points or fewer in 2011 and nothing has changed through the first two games this season. After yesterday's win, Arizona has played 18 games since the beginning of last season and 15 have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Cardinals have a 10-5 record in those game.
DEFENSE CONTINUES TO SHINE
The Cardinals defense posted yet another strong outing in the Cardinals 20-18 win over New England. In holding the Patriots to just 18 points, the Cardinals snapped New England's streak of 25 consecutive home games scoring at least 20 points. Prior to yesterday's game, the Patriots last home game scoring fewer than 20 points was a 33-10 loss to the Steelers on 11/30/08.
Arizona became the first team to hold the Patriots to one TD or fewer in a game since the NY Jets held them to three FGs in a 16-9 victory on 9/20/09 in New York. Prior to yesterday, the last team to hold the Patriots to one TD or fewer at Gillette Stadium was the Miami Dolphins, who held the Pats to one TD on 9/21/08.
The Cardinals defense has now allowed 20 points or fewer in nine of the last 11 games.
In yesterday's win, the Cardinals defense allowed New England to convert just 5-of-15 third down attempts (33.3%). Through the first two games, the Cardinals have allowed opponent's to convert just 10 of 31 third down attempts (32.3%).
With four sacks of Patriots QB Tom Brady yesterday, the Cardinals defense has now posted multiple sacks in eight consecutive games dating back to last season. That ranks as the longest active streak in the NFL after the Cardinals held New England, who had a league-best nine straight with multiple sacks entering Sunday's game, to just one sack.
Consecutive Games with 2+ Sacks-Active NFL Streak
7 San Francisco
Arizona's defense has recorded seven sacks through the first two games. Only Green Bay (11), Chicago (8) and Cleveland (8) have recorded more sacks through the first two weeks of the 2012 season.
The Cardinals allowed just one TD on New England's three trips inside the red zone yesterday. Through the first two games, Arizona, who finished second in the NFL in red zone TD percentage in 2011 (39.6), has allowed just two TDs in seven opponent red zone possessions. That 28.6% TD percentage ranks fourth in the NFL through two games.
NFL Leaders-Red Zone Defense
TD% Team Poss TD
16.7 Tampa Bay 6 1
25.0 Houston 4 1
25.0 Philadelphia 4 1
28.6 Arizona 7 2
33.3 Detroit 3 1
33.3 Minnesota 6 2