TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- When a team wins 17 in a row, some of them
are bound to be ugly.
New England's 23-12 victory over the sputtering Arizona
Cardinals on Sunday was one of those.
"What streak?" coach Bill Belichick said. "We're just trying
to win a game."
That one-game-at-a-time approach has worked for almost exactly a
After a bye next week, the Patriots (2-0) can tie the NFL record
of 18 straight victories with a win at Buffalo on Oct. 3.
But big performances didn't add up to big points.
New England drove to the Arizona 2-, 10- and 2-yard line in the
second half, but had to settle for short field goals by Adam Vinatieri each time.
"It's frustrating," Brady said. "Sometimes you come out of
these games almost with a sour taste in your mouth, knowing you
could have performed so much better."
With the exception of a costly fumble, Dillon had the kind of
day he envisioned when he left lowly Cincinnati after last season.
"I didn't come here to rot away and take L's," he said. "I
wanted to be part of something that's a winning tradition, and this
Wilson's second interception, on McCown's ill-advised pass into
double-coverage, gave New England the ball at its 49 in the fourth
quarter. Brady threw 27 yards to David Givens, one of his six
catches for 118 yards. The drive stalled on fourth-and-1 at the 2,
and Vinatieri's 24-yard field goal put New England up 23-12.
Givens got more playing time because Deion Branch was knocked
out with a knee injury on the final play of the first half.
"A guys goes down, we have ammunition to back him up," Givens
said. "We have five guys (receivers) who can all play."
Arizona managed just 167 yards, 117 through the air and 50 on
the ground. For the second week in a row, the Cardinals scored just
one touchdown. Coach Dennis Green, who made his reputation on
offense, was disgusted.
"We're not on the same page, and that's a shame," he said,
"because system-wise, style-wise this is probably the best offense
in the National Football League right now. It's hard to believe
that we developed it. It's hard to believe that we created it and
we don't know how to run it."
Repeatedly, Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel had an untouched
path to McCown, who was sacked five times, all in the first half.
"We were supposed to be protecting one way and we were
protecting it backwards," Arizona offensive tackle Anthony Clement
said. "Things were just happening. As an offensive line, we
Neil Rackers kicked field goals of 51 and 52 yards in the second
quarter for the Cardinals (0-2).
Former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, killed in combat in
Afghanistan, was honored in an emotional halftime ceremony in
Arizona's home opener.
Down 14-0 early and 17-6 in the third quarter, Arizona went 80
yards in 11 plays, with Emmitt Smith scoring on a one-yard run.
McCown's pass on the 2-point conversion try fell incomplete and it
was 17-12 with 1:33 left in the third.
Vinatieri's 28-yard field goal, after the Cardinals held on
third-and-1 at the 10, made it 20-12 with 12:02 to go.
Two penalties, and a fortunate fumble recovery, aided New
England's eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter.
A roughing-the-passer penalty against James Darling gave the
Patriots a first down at the Arizona 48.
Brady's screen pass to Patrick Pass gained 39 yards, the last 9
yards on a fumble. The Cardinals' Adrian Wilson and LeVar Woods
both had a shot at the fumble, but Branch slid behind them and got
the ball at the 8.
On second-and-goal at the 5, Brady threw incomplete, but a
defensive holding penalty on Karlos Dansby made it first-and-goal.
Brady threw to a wide-open Graham on the next play and it was 7-0.
Wilson's first interception, thrown by McCown into
triple-coverage, gave New England the ball at the Arizona 30.
McCown said he forced things too much.
"When you're in a dogfight, you want to be the guy who makes
the play," he said, "and I just got a little greedy."
Rackers missed a 58-yard field goal try with eight seconds
left in the first half. ... Branch wanted to return to the game,
but Belichick held him out as a precaution. ... McCown was trying
to get the ball to rookie Larry Fitzgerald on both interceptions.