Before the missed kick, there was the crushing penalty.
With just under a minute to go in the fourth quarter with the Cardinals clinging to a 20-18 lead, Patriots running back Danny Woodhead bolted into the open field and appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown on a 30-yard run.
But then came the flag. And a hush settled over Gillette Stadium as the too-good-to-be-true play was called back.
During Woodhead’s scramble to the end zone, tight end Rob Gronkowski was called for holding. No touchdown.
Gronkowski was visibly upset with the official’s call, but was more solemn in the locker room after the game.
“I felt like it was a clean block,” Gronkowski said. “My hands were right inside but gotta look at the film, you guys saw it, too. You guys probably saw the replay, so you can tell me if my hands were outside or not.”
How painful of a loss was it?
“It was difficult,” Gronkowski said. “I gotta go out there and play better. First three quarters, gotta go out there and play better. Start of the game, gotta go out there start faster, start stronger. Overall just gotta improve in every aspect of the game. Can’t be going out there and doing that.”
Gronkowski spoke about the frustration that ensued when the penalty was called.
“Obviously frustrating,” Gronkowski said. “You saw me out there. Not good, can’t have penalties.”
Gronkowski refused to let his kicker take the heat for the shocking home-opening loss.
“Stephen [Gostkowski] does a great job,” Gronkowski said. “He kicked four great field goals to keep us in the game. Definitely the loss is not on him. The loss could be on me. I got that penalty in the end, holding the guy, can’t have things like [that] happen and it’s definitely not on Stephen, great kicker and a great player.”
The Patriots were sluggish through three quarters before turning it on in the fourth.
“We were playing awful,” Gronkowski said. “I was playing awful. I gotta go out there play better, play faster, play stronger. And not just the fourth quarter. Just staying in the game’s not good enough. You gotta be out there the whole game playing hard.”