If there was a turning point in the Patriots win over the Cardinals, it had to be the defense's goal-line stand to end the first half. Over the course of the season, the defense has had significant problems just before halftime, making it a key point of emphasis.
Against the Raiders, 49ers, Jets and Texans, they allowed touchdowns late in the second quarter. Against the Broncos they held Denver to a field goal after a long drive, while J.C. Jackson's interception prevented Baltimore from getting similar points when they were threatening to score before the break.
The stand against Arizona was special though, with their backs against the wall, it was a total team defensive effort.
"The stop at the end of the half was a big one," said Belichick after the game. "That was obviously a huge, huge play for us."
"The mindset is just to not get moved," said Adam Butler, who drew praise for his role in the play from the head coach. "Just don't get moved, don't lose ground and fight to the end of the whistle."
"We had good penetration inside," said Belichick on Monday, after having a chance to review the film. "Adam [Butler] had some penetration that might have forced the ball over there, and LG [Lawrence Guy] had a good charge there. I think [Kenyan] Drake went where he had to go – I think that's where the spaces was. It was really a good, strong tackle by Ja'Whaun that kept him out."
"When you're that close to the goal line the quickest way to the end zone is quick downhill runs," said Bentley, adding he was expecting that kind of a play while making sure to credit the defensive line.
"I had good vision of it because of the d-line," continued Bentley. "I'm always giving credit to the d-line, that's where the play starts at, as far as them coming off the ball, opening the window a little bit for me to get through there and then make a play. Shout out to them."
Bigger than the play itself was the impact it had on the team. The defense would come out in the second half and force a punt before grabbing an interception that would set up the go-ahead score.
"It was huge for us to be able to go out there and get the goal-line stand," said Adrian Phillips. "You go in to halftime, now everybody's amped up. That's exactly what we needed for our team. That was a confidence builder and we knew we could do it. We just haven't been doing it in the past and we finally got it done today."