Jimmy Garoppolo, starting in place of suspended Tom Brady, threw for 264 yards and a touchdown, leading the severely depleted New England Patriots to a 23-21 victory over the favored Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night.
Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro missed a 47-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play.
The miss came after Garoppolo, in his first NFL start, directed the Patriots from their own 19 to the Arizona 15 to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 23-yard field goal for what proved to be the winner with 3:44 to play.
Garappolo completed 24 of 33 passes with no interceptions. Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, both to Larry Fitzgerald.
Not only were the Patriots without Brady, suspended for his role in ”deflategate,” but they also didn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Rob Ninkovich and two starters on the offensive line.
A remarkable 45-yard run by David Johnson set up a 2-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch by Fitzgerald that gave the Cardinals their only lead of the night, 21-20, with 9:46 remaining.
Ex-Patriot Chandler Jones sacked Garoppolo on the first play of New England’s next possession, but the young quarterback still set up the winning kick by Gostkowski, who also booted a 53-yarder.
A holding penalty hampered the final Arizona drive but a pass to Jaron Brown put the Cardinals within field-goal range. The snap was low and Catanzaro booted the ball to the left of the uprights.
New England, a five-point underdog, took the lead on its first possession and scored again to start the second half.
Up 10-7 at the break, the Patriots took the second-half kickoff and went 70 yards in nine plays. Rookie cornerback Brandon Williams was beaten badly for the second time on Garoppolo’s 28-yard pass to the Arizona 8. LaGarrette Blount bulled it in from there and the Patriots led 17-7 with 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
The first two Arizona touchdowns followed New England turnovers.