Cardinals win over Patriots does in fact make a statament

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Cardinals win over Patriots does in fact make a statament

FOXBORO -- Ken Whisenhunt didn't necessarily put the league on notice, following the Arizona Cardinals' 20-18 win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

And he can deny all he wants that a statement was made in leaving New England with a win and a 2-0 record to begin the season.

But facts are facts. And sometimes, reality can get in the way of a politically-correct post game comment.

"Nah, we don't want to talk about statements," said Whisenhunt after the win. "It's two games, okay? You know, I'm proud of our guys and the way they work, and the way they play."

Well, the way the Cardinals worked, and played, on Sunday -- handing the Patriots their first ever loss in a home opener at Gillette Stadium -- a statement was made.

And even the coach who tried to downplay that statement, couldn't help but to remind the football world know that his Cardinals were a two-touchdown underdog, and that calling this win "huge" would be an "understatement."

"We've been a good red-zone team, and we executed our plan," said Whisenhunt. "We had a good plan coming in. Our players believed in it. We stayed patient, worked at it, and had a good week of practice. It's not easy coming in here against a very good football team and a good quarterback.

"Nobody really gave us a chance," he added. "But our guys believed they could do it. And it's great to see them operate that way."

The Cardinals won in dramatic fashion, with a Patriots missed field goal. The finish wasn't exactly how anyone wrote it up, but the end result is all that matters.

And afterwards, the Cardinals locker room reeked of a team that -- by coming into New England and getting a win -- believed their statement was strong.

"Defensive coordinator Ray Horton and coach Whisenhunt, they've been talking about it all week. Come here to get a 'W' and it can definitely propel our season to the next level," said Cardinals cornerback patrick Peterson. "Some guys in the locker room described it as a statement game. But we'll have to wait and see what the rest of the season has for us."

The meaning of this win had some looking further ahead than others.

"It was electric, bro. It was electric," said Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves. "Just to get this win for us, man, it was electric. It's one of those wins, where you look back during a championship run, and say, 'That was the moment in our season where we knew we were a great team.'"

To say that Arizona was prepared for Sunday's game against the Patriots would also be an understatement. After the win, defensive coordinator Ray Horton told a story from this past NFL Draft, that had him drawing up plays for the Week 2 game, while the rest of the team made the picks.

"We were doing the draft, and I was sitting there doing New England plays," said Horton. "They couldn't see what I was doing, but that's the honest truth. I was doing New England plays that we ran in this game, during the draft. We're sitting there talking about draft players, and I'm sitting there doing that. That's a true story."

The Cardinals bought into that well thought-out game plan, and will leave New England as a 2-0 team.

"Coach Horton, he definitely had a pretty good game plan together," said Peterson. "He wanted to get after these guys. He wanted to keep pressure in Brady's face, so we can confuse him a little bit. And that's what we did.

"Coach Whisenhunt preached about it all week, take what these guys give us. They'll give us our shots sooner or later . . . We just kept grinding, man. It was all about grinding, playing a quarter at a time, and playing for each other."

"I think we've developed a never-say-die attitude," said Horton. "We won so many close games last year -- four overtime games. So we know how to react and play in tight games. It's just a lot of hard work that paid off."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)