Cam Newton didn’t have the prettiest stat line against the Cardinals on Sunday. The Patriots quarterback completed just nine of 18 passes for only 84 yards and threw two interceptions.
However, that doesn’t bother Newton that much because the Patriots squeaked out a 20-17 win on Sunday.
“I said in the locker room, I’d rather have an ugly win rather than a pretty loss, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if that even exists, “Newton told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play our best game offensively, but when we needed it, we got the job done. That’s all that counts.”
The Patriots’ offense got off to a bad start. On their third play of the game, Newton’s short pass was tipped and intercepted by Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden at the Patriots’ 23-yard line. The pick set the Cardinals up to score their first touchdown of the day.
A turning point in the game came at the end of the first half when the Patriots’ defense made a goal-line stand to keep the Cardinals’ lead at 10-7 going into halftime. Newton said the stop was “extremely big” and that the performances from the defense and special teams helped the offense.
“For us to play with complementary football, playing it later on in the season, which we’re going to need more of moving forward,” Newton said. “Offensively we didn’t have our best game, but the defense kind of picked up the slack as well as the special teams. Big returns from Gun Show (Gunner Olszewski) and ‘Crief (Donte Moncrief). Those guys really took heed to coaching this past week. We’re just going to need more complementary football wins here moving forward until we got to have the got-to-have-it win situations of the season.”
The Patriots’ offense got off to a good start in the second half, scoring a field goal and a touchdown on the first two drives to go up 17-10.
Following a Cardinals touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to tie the score, Newton and the Patriots found themselves in yet another tight game.
Newton’s first try at giving the Patriots the lead didn’t go well, as he threw his second pick of the day on a pass that wasn’t close to wide receiver Damiere Byrd.
“It was just a bad throw,” Newton said. “It doesn’t really matter what I felt on that play. It’s just a matter what happened. That’s what it comes down to. For me, I can’t jeopardize this team and put the ball up for grabs, so to speak. I just got to get Damiere a better ball so he can compete and contest it.”
Luckily for Newton, he had a chance at redemption after Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 45-yard field goal, giving the Patriots the ball back at their 35-yard line with 1:47 left.
Working with no timeouts, the Patriots lost three yards on their first two plays of the drive. On third-and-13, Newton tucked the ball and ran, getting out of bounds just after the first down marker. As he went out of bounds, Newton was hit by Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons, forcing a 15-yard penalty which placed the Patriots at the Cardinals’ 39-yard line with 50 seconds left.
“We just wanted to execute it to the best of our abilities,” Newton said of the run, which was by design. “The hit, that’s just protecting myself at all times. Fortunately for us it got us an additional 15 yards.”
Newton appeared to be shaken up at first by the hit, causing his teammates to come to his defense, which he appreciated.
“I was in my right mind. I don’t want you guys to say he didn’t know whatever. I wasn’t concussed,” Newton said. “I was trying to alleviate myself from that situation. The time I was down, to see the guys come to your protection, it means a lot. It means a lot. For them to show that, I’m pretty sure they know I’d do the same thing for him.”
The Patriots gained seven yards on the next two plays before Newton spiked the ball with three seconds left, setting up Nick Folk to make a 50-yard field goal as time expired.
Earlier in November, Folk made a 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots a 30-27 win over the Jets. Folk’s clutch kicks earned him praise from Newton as the holiday season approaches.
“I told Kicker Guy (Folk), he’s putting on a performance that is going to put him on Santa Claus’ Christmas list,” Newton said. “I’m expecting him to stay on Santa’s good list moving forward from Boogie’s household. You can be expecting something from there.”
Sunday’s win marks a breakthrough for a Patriots team that’s lost by a score or less four times this season with the offense failing to score on the final drive. Newton was happy that the team pulled through when it mattered, moving the Patriots to 5-6 and keeping their playoff hopes alive.
“We got to stack ’em together. That’s what it pretty much comes down to. Find ways to win football games,” Newton said. “It’s better to find ways to win in situational football, got to have the situations, rather than playing the game just to play the game. Coach (Belichick) does a great job with harping on that throughout the week, as well as Josh, all the position coaches. To come to fruition, for us to come out on top is great.”
“As we keep moving forward, we’re going to need a lot of hands-on deck with the wins, no matter how it may come, running game, passing game, defense, special teams. We just need to win,” Newton later added.
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