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."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

From Schefter on Facebook:  

Specific details on Rob Gronkowski's new deal with Patriots, per @RosenhausSports:

1st tier, which gets him to $10.75M either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1200 receiving yards or All Pro -- and he's made All Pro four times.

2nd tier to $8.75M: he has to get 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1000 receiving yards or 12 TDs.

3rd tier takes him to $6.75M is 70 percent playtime, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.

But a big new groundbreaking deal for Gronk.

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.