Losing Tom Brady for four games was supposed to be a big blow for the New England Patriots. Losing Rob Gronkowski for at least the opener – the most difficult of the four games on the slate sans Brady – was supposed to make it a sure thing that the Patriots would lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night. It was up to young quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who had not started a game, to lead the Patriots into battle – a battle that he would emerge victorious in, despite his inexperience and shortage of weapons. It was classic New England Patriots and their “Next Man Up” mentality.
The Patriots defeated the Cardinals, 23-21, on the strength of their new quarterback, consistent place kicker, and resilience to let injuries, excuses, or anything else distract them from “doing their job”, as their coach preaches.
The Patriots were able to build a 17-7 lead, based on two great throws from Garoppolo – a 37-yard TD strike to new WR Chris Hogan and a 28-yard pass to rookie Malcolm Mitchell that set up a LaGarette Blount rushing TD.
But it wasn’t just his receivers that “Jimmy G” was completing passes to; he also completed one…to himself. A throw of his was batted at the line of scrimmage and Garoppolo plucked it out of the air for three yards. Naturally, Twitter took notice:
Jimmy Garoppolo now has as many receptions this season as Dez Bryant.
— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) September 12, 2016
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 12, 2016
Jimmy Garoppolo is a must start in PPR leagues
— Brad Denny (@BDenny29) September 12, 2016
Garoppolo > Randy Moss
— Tom Leyden (@TomLeyden) September 12, 2016
Garoppolo. Selfish play throwing to self. Brady wouldn’t do that.
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) September 12, 2016
There was plenty of excitement around the game – as during the Arizona Cardinals’ comeback in the fourth quarter, WR Larry Fitzgerald scored his 100th touchdown of his illustrious career, and the game itself came down to a field goal attempt by Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro, after New England’s kicker drilled a go-ahead FG moments prior. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the snap was a little off, causing Catanzaro’s attempt to sail wide left, giving the Patriots and Garoppolo an important first win of the season.
To see the full graph of this game, click here.