Looking Back At The Cardinals' 20-18 Win Over Patriots And The Rest Of Sunday's Games

Sep 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks off the field with his head low during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Every Monday, Bryan Gibberman looks at the Cardinals game and highlights some of what happened around the rest of the league in his latest "The Morning After" column.

The Patriots outgained the Cardinals 387 yards to 245 yards.

The Patriots picked up 25 first downs compared to 16 for the Cardinals.

The Patriots averaged five yards per play to the Cardinals four.

The Patriots won the turnover battle with the Cardinals two to one.

Yet when the game ended the Arizona Cardinals handed the New England Patriots their first defeat in a home opener at Gillette Field (10-0 previously) with a 20-18 win.

How the hell is that even possible?

New England entered Arizona's territory on nine out of 13 possessions. Those drives ended with a field goal, field goal, punt, field goal, punt, punt, field goal, touchdown and missed field goal.

Of those nine situations Arizona held Tom Brady and company to 18 points -- an average of two points per drive in Cardinals territory.

For the second straight week the Cards defense overcame a porous offensive line (don't let the one sack allowed trick you), an inability to consistently run the ball (longest run was a 17 yard gain by Patrick Peterson on a gadget play) and Larry Fitzgerald being neutralized.

Arizona is in excellent position currently. If they would have came out of these first three games with a 1-2 record it would have been a win, now they have a shot to go 3-0. After the Eagles game next week the Cardinals host the Dolphins, head to St. Louis for a Thursday night game on short week, host Buffalo and play at the Vikings.

After that the schedule gets significantly harder again. To get to 10 wins and have a shot at the playoffs I would want the Cardinals to be 5-2 through that stretch to give them some breathing room in the second half of the season.

Western Hemisphere...A look around the NFC West

When breaking down college football a lot is made about how one conference performs from week to week. The Pac-12 made a statement two weeks ago, while the Big-10 crapped the bed.

In the NFL we don't normally think in these terms, but there is no way around it, the NFC West made a statement during Week 2 of the NFL season.

The division went 4-0 - 49ers physically beat up the Lions, Rams outgunned the Redskins, Seahawks dominated the Cowboys and the Cards shocked the Pats. That's two playoffs team from last year and two teams that looked greatly improved in the first week of the season.

As I said last week I doubted the 49ers before the season and have already admitted I was wrong, they look like the best team in the NFL. Alex Smith continues to play efficient football, doing just enough to keep opposing defenses honest, and creating plays in the passing game to compliment their dominant run game.

The Seahawks are almost impossible to beat at home. If they can find a way to win 2-3 road games they should be right around 10 wins.

St. Louis should be to 2-0, but they choked away their Week 1 game against the Lions.

For a division that has been a laughing stock for many years now, it's a nice revival and will make for some fun football to watch this season.

Extra Points

  1. Most fascinating part of the NFL season so far is what has happened to the Patriots and Packers offenses. If Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning have halfway decent games on Monday night Tom Brady will be 11th in passing yards and Aaron Rodgers would be 16th. Last year they finished second and fifth. It has nothing to do with how much they are passing, Brady is averaging the same amount of attempts per game he did last year (38 passes per game), while Rodgers is averaging five more (33 last year to 38 this year). Part of it is the inability of both teams' offensive lines to pass protect, but both aren't playing at the same level they did last season. It's only two games and there is still more than enough time for the two All Pro QBs to turn it around.
  1. The Philadelphia Eagles are 2-0 despite nine turnovers, four this week against the Ravens and five last week against the Browns. They had some more offensive line injuries on Sunday, which is definitely a concern, but if they can clean up their play Philly can be a very dangerous team.
  1. Bills running back C.J. Spiller looks like he is one of this year's game changers when it comes to fantasy football. Spiller was excellent when Fred Jackson went down last year and his owners caught a big break on Jackson went down again. In two games Spiller has piled up 292 yards on 29 carries. That's an average of 10 yards per carry!!!!!
  1. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III continue to shine. There is no reason to continually compare the two of them. They are both going to be great quarterbacks and the Colts and Redskins are both lucky to have them. I don't need to have this debate shoved down my throat over the next 10 years, which it undoubtedly will.
  1. Congratulations to Reggie Bush. He had 26 carries for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the Dolphins 35-13 win over the Raiders. He's dealt with people doubting him his entire career and he's shut them all up. Good for you.
  1. Is it really in the Ravens best interest to make Joe Flacco the centerpiece of their offense and not Ray Rice? Through two games Rice has only 26 carries, but is averaging 6.7 YPC. Flacco had one interception and lost a fumble Sunday against the Eagles. In the Bengals game he had three potential interceptions dropped. Don't get me wrong Flacco is good, but Rice is still the best and most talented player in Baltimore's offense. He needs at minimum 25 touches a game between rushing and receiving. In Week 2 he had 23 and Week 1 the Rutgers product had 13.
  1. My two favorite players in the NFL right now are Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb and Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. It's so much fun watching how each team finds different ways to give these versatile players the ball. It makes me think about how a smart NFL team will use Oregon RB/WR D'Anthony Thomas.

Get more Cardinals coverage at Revenge of the Birds.

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