Cardinals dodge a bullet after Gostkowski's miss

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Cardinals dodge a bullet after Gostkowski's miss

FOXBORO -- There was nothing Ryan Williams could do.

The damage was already done. He fumbled at his own 35-yard line with one minute left in a two-point game. The Patriots recovered, milked the clock down to six seconds, and a 42-yard field goal would give them a one-point win over the Cardinals

But as the young Arizona running back stood on the sideline for what should have been a game-winning kick, Stephen Gostkowski let Williams off the hook.

He shanked it, wide-left. And the Cardinals held on for a 20-18 win.

"This team has resiliency," said Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt afterwards. "It finds a way to win. They never give up. So, that's the first thing that came to my mind when Williams fumbled.

"I didn't like it, that the win came that way. I've got a lot less hair, because of that. But our guys worked hard enough, and we deserved to win today."

Williams had the ball knocked out from under his arm on a 3rd-and-13 carry to the left, as Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes put his helmet into it. Vince Wilfork recovered, and it gave New England a chance to win.

But when that didn't happen, Williams went from being the goat, to having nothing more than a learning experience.

"Look, the guy's helmet hit right on the ball," said Whisenhunt. "It wasn't that Ryan was swinging it out from his body. But, in that situation, you've got to understand what's on the line. He's a young player, and he'll learn from that."

When asked what the Cardinals were thinking as Gostkowski ran out for the kick, cornerback Patrick Peterson said he was thinking, "Go get it."

"I think we put a lot of pressure on a lot of teams with our field-goal block team," said Peterson. "With me coming off the edge, Calais Campbell in the middle, we create a lot of havoc for a lot of teams. We just want to continue putting pressure on field-goal teams, so things like that can happen."

Things like, Gostkowski missing a game-winning field goal at home in the final seconds.

But if the kick went through the uprights, could the Cardinals imagine how they would have felt?

"Ya, but, he missed it," said Peterson with a smile.

Indeed he did. And it takes a whole lot of the spotlight off Williams.

Gronkowski healthy enough to participate during Patriots OTA practice

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Gronkowski healthy enough to participate during Patriots OTA practice

There's one where he makes a one-handed catch and celebrates with his arms outstretched as he glides into the end zone. There's another where he leaves his feet to go up and over safety Devin McCourty to come down with a pass. 

Judging by some of the pictures that have surfaced on Patriots.com of Rob Gronkowski participating in an OTA practice earlier this week, the All-Pro tight end seems to be feeling pretty good. 

Gronkowski, who agreed to an incentive-laden contract restructure for the upcoming season, is returning to action after undergoing season-ending back surgery last year so there was some question as to just how prepared he'd be to participate in practices this spring and summer. 

Again, judging by the photos, the answer is he's ready to ready to run routes on air and make contested catches against defenders.

Reporters will have an opportunity to watch the team practice on Thursday, the first workout open to members of the media, which will allow us to judge Gronkowski's mobility and his level of participation more fully.

Another takeaway from the photos on the team website is that Gronkowski was not required to wear a non-contact jersey during the session. Contact is not allowed during this phase of the offseason training program, but players returning from injury (and quarterbacks) will still wear red jerseys to inform their teammates they're not to be touched. For instance, Jonathan Freeny, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve about a month into last season, donned a red non-contact jersey in one image.