Gostkowski's missed FG seals Pats' fate in 20-18 loss

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Gostkowski's missed FG seals Pats' fate in 20-18 loss

FOXBORO -- The last time the Patriots played at Gillette Stadium, a game -- indeed, a championship -- was decided by a shanked field goal in the south end zone.

Nine months later, it happened again. Only this time, they were the shankers, not the shankees.

The Patriots seemed on the verge of a miracle comeback victory Sunday when Stephen Gostkowski was set up for a 42-yard field goal with six seconds left. The kick -- which would have been Gostkowski's fifth FG of the day -- was about to complete a comeback from a 20-9, fourth-quarter deficit and erase a multitude of New England sins over the course of the afternoon.

Only he missed it. He missed it nearly as dramatically as Billy Cundiff missed the potential game-tying field goal for the Ravens in last January's AFC championship, pulling it to the left and never coming close to the goal posts.

It allowed Arizona Cardinals to come away with a 20-18 victory over the Patriots, New England's first-ever Opening Day loss in the 11-year history of Gillette Stadium.

In the end justice may have been served, because this was a game the Patriots hardly deserved to win. Their statistical advantages (387 total yards to 245 for Arizona, 25 first downs to 16, three-minute edge in time of possession) camouflaged a mistake-riddled, inconsistent afternoon for New England.

"You miss kicks, you throw interceptions, you fumble the ball, you miss tackles . . . I mean, over the course of a long season, those things happen," said quarterback Tom Brady. "There's not one play that lost this game. We did a lot of things that allowed us to lose this game. We had a lot of opportunities out there to make more plays than we did.

"Hopefully, it never comes down to a 42-yard field goal at the end. Hopefully we do a much better job on offense so it's not that kind of game at the end."

More to come . . .

Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

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Griff Whalen practicing for Patriots, wearing No. 14

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took to the practice field behind Gillette Stadium on Friday with all but one player. 

Wideout Danny Amendola was the only player not present at the session. Newly-acquired receiver Griff Whalen was present and wearing No. 14. 

Safety Jordan Richards was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12. Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder), Elandon Roberts (hamstring), Eric Rowe (hamstring) and Matthew Slater (foot) were all limited in practice on Thursday, but were on the field Friday.

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

Ravens safety Weddle was interested in joining Patriots before landing in Baltimore

FOXBORO – Back in March, Eric Weddle batted his eyes longingly at the Patriots. The two-time All-Pro safety’s time was done with the Chargers and he wanted to spend his NFL autumn with a team that had a chance to win it all. 

He didn’t land in New England, but he didn’t too badly, winding up with the usually competitive Ravens.  

On a Thursday conference call with New England media, Weddle confirmed that there was mutual interest expressed. 

“Obviously, I was interested,” he acknowledged. “I have nothing but high regard, respect and admiration – and envy, quite honestly – of the success of the New England Patriots over the years. Obviously, battling them in my career, it’s always been a great game. I love the way they play, love the foundation, love everything about it. It was definitely on my radar. There were talks both ways, it just didn’t end up [working out].”

The numbers massed at the position with Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon played a role in the two sides not being able to reach accord, according to Weddle. 

“I’m good buddies with Patrick Chung,” he said. “I grew up playing with him and Devin [McCourty] is one of the best to play, so I don’t know if it would have worked out personnel-wise. But obviously, I could have seen myself fitting in there seamlessly.”

Weddle’s New England attraction apparently wasn’t love that bloomed late in his career. Toward the end of his conference call, Weddle said, “I’m still wondering why they just didn’t draft me in ’07; I could have been still playing there now.”

As reporters puzzled for a moment trying to recall the 2007 first-rounder, Weddle chipped in with the answer: “[They took] Brandon Meriweather.”