Cam Newton praises Patriots defense for 'extremely big' goal line stand vs. Cardinals

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Nick Goss
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Cam Newton praises Pats' D for 'extremely big' goal line stand vs. Cardinals originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots defense stepped up in Sunday's 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals when the team needed it most.

The Cardinals were poised to enter halftime of their Week 12 matchup at Gillette Stadium with a 17-7 lead. Arizona's offense had marched 71 yards on 14 plays down to New England's 1-yard line. The Cardinals decided to go for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal instead of kicking a field goal with two seconds remaining in the first half.

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The Patriots defense stuffed Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake at the goal line to keep the deficit to three points. 

It was one of the most important moments in a game full of pivotal plays.

"That was big. That was extremely big," Patriots quarterback Cam Newton said during his postgame video press conference. "For us to play with complementary football, playing it later on in the season, which we're going to need more of moving forward.

"Offensively we didn't have our best game, but the defense kind of picked up the slack as well as the special teams. Big returns from (Gunner Olszewski) and (Donte Moncrief). Those guys really took heed to coaching this past week. We're just going to need more complementary football wins here moving forward ..."

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Before that fourth down play, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a brief chat with outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick and cornerback Jason McCourty to go over the scenarios the defense had to be prepared for in that situation.

"Well, we took a timeout there after I think they had taken a timeout, after we had seen the formation. There were a couple things that we were alert for down there," Belichick said in his postgame video press conference.

"We just tried to make them aware of it, make sure we had what we felt was the right or best call for that situation. Obviously, our defensive line did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. Like I said, I think (Ja'Whaun) Bentley scraped and made the tackle, made a strong tackle, kept Drake out.

"There's a lot of things to cover down there -- multiple runs, the quarterback is a potential runner. (DeAndre) Hopkins is out there. There were several things that, depending on how they aligned, several things we were ready for. Once they aligned, thought we could eliminate a couple of them. Just wanted to make sure we had everyone straight."

Cam Newton on the Patriots ugly win

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The Patriots fed off the momentum generated from this goal line stand and outscored the Cardinals 10-0 in the third quarter to enter the final 15 minutes up 17-10. New England prevailed with a game-winning 50-yard field goal by kicker Nick Folk as time expired in the fourth quarter.

The goal line stand was one part of a really impressive effort from the Patriots defense. This unit held the Cardinals 11 points below their normal scoring average and limited Arizona's offense to a season-low 4.3 yards per play.

The Patriots will need more of these types of defensive performances over the final five games of the regular season if this team is going to secure a playoff berth in the AFC.