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."

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their main takeaways from the Patriots win over the Saints and discuss the injuries sustained during the game, specifically Rob Gronkowski's.

6:23 - Holley, Giles, and Smith talk about David Price pitching his first innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, but Holley thinks it is a mistake that he is not starting.

11:21 - Abby Chins joins BST for a discussion about Kyrie Irving's appearance on First Take.

14:43 - We go around the NFL for week 2 of the season and talk about the most surprising and best teams in the league.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Stafford throws for 2 TDs as Lions beat Beckham, Giants

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Stafford throws for 2 TDs as Lions beat Beckham, Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So far, so good for Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Eli Manning and the New York Giants are heading in the opposite direction.

Stafford threw for two touchdowns, rookie Jamal Agnew broke the game open with an 88-yard punt return and the Lions beat the Giants 24-10 on Monday night.

The Lions (2-0) sacked Eli Manning five times and Stafford put together another big game while sending the Giants (0-2) to a second straight disappointing performance. Star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned from a sprained left ankle, but New York still struggled offensively.

"We did a nice job of getting in the end zone early and our defense did what they do," Stafford said.

Stafford found Marvin Jones for a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter and passed to Eric Ebron for a go-ahead 7-yarder in the second. Matt Prater added a 56-yard field goal just before halftime that bounced off the upright, helping the Lions to a 17-7 lead at the break.

Ezekiel Ansah had three sacks as Detroit joined Atlanta and Carolina as the only unbeaten teams in the NFC through Week 2. The Lions made the playoffs last season, but finished the year with four straight losses.

Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowler who missed the season opener, had four catches for 36 yards in limited action.

Manning threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Evan Engram on the first play of the second quarter, but the rookie tight end was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for a seemingly obscene gesture. It allowed the Lions to get the ball at the Giants 45 after the kickoff went out of bounds and Stafford drove them for a second score.

New York closed to 17-10 on Aldrick Rosas' 25-yard field goal early in the second half, but it wasted a chance for a TD. The Giants had first-and-goal at the 1 and then got pushed back to the 11 on a holding penalty on a first-down run.

"We talked about playing complete, complimentary football. By no stretch of the imagination did we do that tonight," said Ben McAdoo, who led the Giants to their first playoff berth since 2011 last season in his first year as head coach. "We've got to do better. We've dug ourselves in a hole. No one feels sorry for us. We've got to find a way to get better and get better in a hurry."

Agnew then helped clinch the game for Detroit with his big return with 12:56 left, faking out New York punter Brad Wing on his way to the end zone. It was the fifth-longest punt return in team history.

Manning was 22 for 32 for 239 yards for New York, while Stafford was 15 for 21 for 122 yards. The NFL's highest-paid player threw for four touchdowns in Detroit's season-opening victory against Arizona.

INJURIES

Lions SS Tavon Wilson (shoulder) left in the second half. ... The Giants lost starting RT Bobby Hart on the opening series. LG Justin Pugh moved to tackle and Brett Jones replaced him. Giants also played without starters MLB B.J. Goodson (lower leg) and CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle-hand). Backup LB J.T. Thomas (groin) was ruled out early in the second half.

MEMORY LANE

The Giants held a halftime ceremony to honor the 10th anniversary of their 2007 Super Bowl championship team. Coach Tom Coughlin and Hall of Famer Michael Strahan brought the Lombardi Trophy onto the field. New York beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in the title game.

UP NEXT

Lions: host the undefeated Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Giants: at Philadelphia for Sunday afternoon game.

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