Cardinals win over Patriots does in fact make a statament

Cardinals win over Patriots does in fact make a statament
September 16, 2012, 11:06 pm
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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."