The script may have been very different, but the results Sunday night in Arizona were exactly what's come to be expected of Bill Belichick's Patriots.
New England had all the reasons and excuses in the world to open up the 2016 season with a road loss.
Instead, Jimmy Garoppolo's first NFL start saw the young quarterback lead the Patriots to an impressive 23-21 victory to secure first place in the AFC East after a week of action, even with Tom Brady in the midst of his four-game Deflategate suspension.
The Boston Globe says that Garoppolo "played his role to perfection," looking anything but an inexperienced newcome to the big stage. Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy says that even without Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the supposed tough spot of opening night was no problem. Fellow columnist Chris Gasper writes that while playing without Brady was supposed to be a punishment for the Patriots, it didn't work.
The Globe notes that the Cardinals certainly missed out on a chance to take down the Patriots, while the paper says Brady was definitely paying attention to his teammates' work from afar.
The Boston Herald focuses on Garoppolo's impressive drive to Stephen Gostkowski's game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. One game into his starting career, Herald columnist Ron Borges says Garoppolo is the "real deal." The Herald *notes that the Patriots certainly thrived in their rare opportunity as a big underdog. As is so often the case with Brady, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were top targets for Garoppolo in the win. The *Herald *notes that Belichick wasn't really interested in any postgame "storylines," while Garoppolo was given a game ball for his opening act. The *Herald also has the bests and worsts from the opener.
The Providence Journal says Garoppolo passed his first test "with flying colors." The ProJo *notes that with the opening night upset, "suddenly everything is brighter for the Patriots." The *ProJo also breaks down how the Patriots had to shuffle the offensive line around to pull off the impressive win.
ESPNBoston.com also looks at the line, with praise for Camerson Fleming stepping in at left tackle for an injured Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon putting forth a less impressive performance at right tackle. ESPNBoston.com declares that the latest Patriots win is a clear reflection on Belichick's greatness as a coach. The site also notes that while Garoppolo's playing time will be only for a limited time, the young quarterback's talent is of the lasting variety.
ESPN passes along Brady's social media post after his teammates' impressive win, while noting that Garoppolo is no longer an unknown.
WEEI.com says Garoppolo aced his first NFL test. WEEI notes that while the Patriots were taking care of business in Arizona, workers were busy removing the Brady banners from the lighthouse back at Gillette Stadium. Edelman had a message for his pal Brady after the win. WEEI looks at exactly how the Patriots pulled off the upset.
CSNNE.com says that on a night when the Patriots were supposed to start their punishment for Deflategate, the team once again came away victorious. CSNNE.com notes that Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett took part in a mild protest prior to the game, raising clenched fists at the conclusion of the "Star Spangled Banner." If you don't mind slideshows, CSNNE.com also has the bests and the worsts from the opener, as well as five quick impressions after the Patriots victory.
After just one game NFL.com declares that Garoppolo proved the Patriots "can thrive under his stewardship."
USA Today that as depleted as they were on Sunday night, the Patriots proved their system is as strong as ever.
Lost in the news of the game, suspended defensive end Rob Ninkovich reached a one-year contract extension with the Patriots on Sunday, as reported by ESPN.