Patriots Lose First Home Opener In Gillette Stadium History
We’ve seen the script so many times, Tom Brady snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. But on a day when Troy Brown could have been used on the field instead of rocking his new Patriots Hall of Fame jacket in the owner’s box, New England dropped a heartbreaker to the underdog Arizona Cardinals.
The offense sputtered a bit for most of the game, never quite hitting on all cylinders until the 4th quarter. The slow start wasn’t helped by the injury to tight end, Aaron Hernandez. He left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury (whick turned out to be sprained, not broken). Tom Brady systematically led the offense down the field when it mattered most to deliver a strike to Rob Gronkowski. The following play, the tandem failed to connect on a 2 point conversion that would have tied the game at 20.
The Cardinals got the ball back, leading 20-18 with 2:06 to go. Arizona snagged a first down after the 2
minute warning, and all hope seemed lost. Then, that familiar Patriots magic seemed to return. With 1:01 left to play, Brandon Spikes forced Cardinals 2nd string running back Ryan Williams to cough up the football. Vince Wilfork pounced on it, and the Patriots were back in business, well within field goal range of Stephen Gostkowski (or so we thought). Gostkowski looked confident as he trotted out on the field to boot the game winner. Why wouldn’t he be? He had already had nailed two 50+ yard field goals today. That’s why the Gillette crowd was stunned when Gostkowski sent the kick wide left.
Brady waited until the final drive of the fourth quarter to throw a touchdown pass in his 34th straight game. That streak remains intact. The home opener streak has ended. The Patriots had won all 10 home openers at Gillette Stadium. The last time the Patriots lost a home opener was that emotional game against the New York Jets in the NFL’s opening weekend after 9/11. That also happened to be the day that Patriots starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, received a crushing blow from Jet’s linebacker, Mo Lewis. The hit was so ferocious that Bledsoe was forced from the game with internal bleeding. His unknown understudy, a backup quarterback drafted in the 6th round, was called off the bench for the final drive of the game. Tom Brady lost the game, but ended up leading the Patriots to their first Superbowl Championship.