As one of the better memes on this list says: No Tom Brady, no Gronk, no problem. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots did need a massive screw up on the Arizona Cardinals field goal kick to walk away with a stunning win, but the debut of Jimmy Garoppolo as a starting quarterback in the NFL couldn’t have gone any better.
Belichick finds ways to win. The Cardinals? Maybe playing their starters the minimal possible time during the preseason hurt them early in the game. They looked a lot more in sync in the second half, but it was a bit too late, and then came the miss. The snap from Kameron Caddy was low, the hold by Drew Butler was bad, leading to the miss, going wide left, by Chandler Catanzaro.
But even without the field goal, a full-strength Cardinals team, a group some see as the favorites in the NFC to win the Super Bowl, should have done much better against an offense that was missing Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the best tight end in the NFL, although one that’s always going to miss some games during the season.
All the theories about what record the Patriots will be with once Brady returns were thrown out the window. It might be 2-2, it might be 4-0. But this team once again proved that under Belichick, the plug-and-play philosophy never stops working, no matter who is facing them.