A forced fumble by Brandon Spikes gave the Patriots some semblance of hope as they received the ball in field goal position.
Gostkowski, who was 4-for-4 on field goals with two 50-plus yard makes, missed a 42-yarder with :06 left, however, and the Patriots dreams of a comeback win were dashed.
While Wes Welker didn't play, likely throwing Brady off at the start, it was Aaron Hernandez's injury that really threw a hiccup in the Pats' offensive scheme.
The defense looked stellar for the most of the afternoon, but one mistake too many ended up costing the Pats in this one.
Fourth Quarter, :52, Cardinals 20-18: The Patriots were in need of some magic, and Brandon Spikes, of all people, was the one to deliver.
On third down, Ryan Williams tried running up the middle for the Cardinals, but Spikes met him with a helmet, clearing the ball down onto the ground. The Pats take the the ball back with less than a minute to go and within striking distance.
What a turn of events.
Fourth Quarter, 2:06, Cardinals 20-18: Brady to Gronkowski was a sound heard many, many times last season.
After missing out on a deep pass across the middle that Gronk seemed to let slip through his fingers, Brady finally connected with the big TE on a five-yard toss.
The two-point conversion failed, though, and the Pats still trail 20-18.
Fourth Quarter, 6:46, Cardinals 20-12: Gostkowski legged a 53-yarder up through the posts to get New England back within striking distance, now a 20-12 lead for the Cardinals.
Brady looked good on that drive, but a missed opportunity with Gronk ended things. Brady was all sorts of fired up about it, too. He walked about 20 yards downfield to yell at the official in the back, shouting about defensive holding. Maybe it will bring out some calls for the Pats.
Fourth Quarter, 7:56, Cardinals 20-9: The Patriots needed a strong defensive stand and they got it, forcing Arizona to punt for the fifth time on Sunday. Now, they need a strong showing from their offense and to finally capitalize on some of their long drives.
Brady's found a rhythm in the second half, but it seems that without Hernandez in there the offense isn't finding ways to convert in keys situations.
Welker and Gronkowski need to continue coming up big, but can they do enough to get two scores on the board?
Fourth Quarter, 11:50, Cardinals 20-9: A strong drive goes for naught once again.
Brady seemed to getting into a rhythm after completing a 22-yard pass to Gronk across the middle and hooking up with Lloyd on a couple out patterns. But a Ridley run to the right side was sniffed out by Peterson and ended the drive prematurely
Yikes. This is getting ugly and with just over 10:00 left, this could be falling into desperation territory.
Fourth Quarter, 14:00, Cardinals 20-9: This game is getting out of hand quickly. Ater a few solid stops from the Patriots D, Kolb rushed through the Pats front line on the way to a five-yard touchdown score.
The Cardinals now have a 20-9 lead, putting the Patriots in near extinct territory as they need two scores to even get back to within a sniff of the lead.
The Cardinals were bailed out by a couple foolish plays, including Steven Gregory's late-hit penalty that tacked on 15 yards to a 28-yard grab.
The Pats desperately need a score. Even with 14 minutes left, time is precious.
End Third Quarter, Cardinals 13-9: The Cardinals haven't been all that consistent offensively, yet they still maintain a 13-9 lead heading into the final frame.
The charge has been primarily led by the Cardinals defense, which has kept Tom Brady and the Patriots passing attack at bay for much of the afternoon.
A strong special teams showing, which was a concern heading into this one, played a role in the Cardinals lead as a blocked punt gave way to Kolb's 2-yard touchdown pass to Roberts.
Now, it's time for Brady to find the red zone and make an impact. The defense has done its job, for the most part, yet they still trail.
Third Quarter, 2:46, Cardinals 13-9: Surprise, surprise, the strength of the Patriots offense is running on the powerful legs of Stevan Ridley. Sadly, there are no results to show for it.
Ridley busted out for four carries and about 21 yards to kick the drive off, and Brady connected with both Welker and Lloyd to keep the momentum alive. But Danny Woodhead's failed third-down rush ended up killing all the momentum Ridley and Brady built.
There just seems to be something seriously off with the Patriots attack here against the Cardinals. Not to discredit the Arizona defense, which has been stellar and is obviously underrated, but maybe Hernandez's absence — even if his ankle isn't broken — is showing more than it would have been expected.
Third Quarter, 8:52, Cardinals 13-9: The old punt block actually worked, and the Patriots had their backs against the wall — and goal line.
A Zoltan Mesko punt was blocked inside the Patriots five-yard line and the Cards took over at the three.
A pair of missed opportunities, including Larry Fitzgerald dropping a typically routine play by his standards, but the Cardinals finally fired through with a touchdown toss from Kolb to Andre Roberts for the score and a 13-9 lead.
That special teams gaffe is concerning and the impact could be heightened if Brady and the offense can't find the end zone and fast. This game is quickly flying by and the Pats offense just continues to look stagnant.
Third Quarter, 12:53, Patriots 9-6: For the third time on the afternoon, the Patriots have to settle for another field goal.
Stephen Gostkowski booted his third field goal up through the uprights, this time from 51-yards out.
The big play of the drive, though, was actually the first one. Brady came out firing with a long toss to Welker for a 36-yard completion. The grab just continues to prove how valuable Welker is to this offense, even if it costs a little bit more than expected out of the old wallet. Brady is just not the same without him, or at least he hasn't been today.
2:34 p.m.: Injury update!
Aaron Hernandez's ankle doesn't look to be good, but apparently it's not broken, at least according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
Check out the Tweet below for confirmation.
Source: Aaron Hernandez's ankle is not broken bit.ly/RVoeJJ
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 16, 2012
A broken ankle would've been devastating and could have even meant a good 10 weeks on the sidelines for the Pats. It still isn't a good look for the Pats, but it's better news than they could've have received.
End Second Quarter, 6-6: An uneventful — for the most part — first quarter quickly became an uneventful first half.
Tom Brady seems out of sync on offense, or at least he did until that last drive, and that could well be primarily due to Wes Welker's inconsistent play in the lineup.
Brady completed just 7 of 12 passes for 75 yards, highlighted by a 25-yard grab by Welker at the end of the half.
Aaron Hernandez's injured ankle is a definite point of concern, but even if the tight end is unable to return — and I expect that's the case — Brady still needs to find a way to get this offense up and running.
The defense put on a heck of a show even in the stead of offensive consistency, holding the Cardinals to six points and crushing Kevin Kolb at almost every turn.
Chandler Jones kept the heat on — highlighted by a forced fumble — while Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork stuffed holes and made sure the Cardinals QB was as uncomfortable as a wool sweater on a sunburn.
Stevan Ridley rushed out for 54 yards in the first half and with another effort like that in the second frame, the Patriots just might find some holes in the secondary.
Second Quarter, 0:06, 6-6: Well, hello Mr. Welker.
After being about as good as a ghost for almost the entirety of the first half, Welker hauled in a 25-yard catch along the sidelines.
With the grab not only did he crawl out of the depths of God knows where, but Welker also broke Troy Brown's Patriots record with 558 career catches.
Congratulations, Wes, you deserve it.
Second Quarter, 4:42, 6-6: The turnover was nice, but it looks like Brady might just be a bit out of sync against this stingy Cardinals D.
A sack and two missed chances across the middle gave the ball right back to Kolb and Arizona.
Brady just looks out of whack for some reason, maybe it has something to do with his main man Wes Welker not being out there as a consistent piece in this offensive attack. Just a thought.
Second Quarter, 5:52, 6-6: Brandon Spikes brought the pressure on Kevin Kolb for much of that defensive stand, but it was the hard hit and strong hands of Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones that got the ball back for the Pats.
Jones and Ninkovich combined to force the fumble and the opportunistic Tavon Wilson was there to receive it and give New England the ball back with great field position right around midfield.
Second Quarter, 9:02, 6-6: Stevan Ridley took a little time to get going but he was a man on a mission on the Patriots second drive of the second quarter.
Ridley almost single handedly drove the Patriots attack with four rushes for about 30 yards on the series. He just put his head down and drove through Cardinals defenders, cruising for a couple big gains and providing a spark for this offense.
Woodhead was unable to get the first down on 3rd and 1, but Gostkowski put his second field goal on the board with a 34-yarder to tie things up for New England.
Second Quarter, 12:40, Cardinals 6-3: After a tough first quarter on the defensive end, Chandler Jones had the Patriots back in high gear to start off the second.
Jones nearly took down Kolb inside his own five, but a holding penalty kept the rookie from getting a sack for the second straight week.
Devin McCourty and the secondary seemed to lock down on the receivers as well, as Kolb has completed just two of his past five after starting off hot with four of six on the first drive.
End First Quarter, Cardinals 6-3: There was plenty of action to break down in that first quarter, revolving primarily around the questions with the Patriots offense.
Aaron Hernandez fell victim to an unfortunate ankle injury and suddenly the Pats are down at least one weapon in the passing game. His injury looked serious as he struggled to get off the field and went to the locker room to get X-rays, almost immediately.
Another big thing to note is that Wes Welker started the game on the bench as Julian Edelman took over as the starter on the outside here against the Cardinals. An interesting move and possibly foreshadowing to future passes and games?
The Cardinals were fortunate during the first quarter, though, taking advantage of a struggling Pats D and coming up with a miscommunication that went for an interception to give them the early 6-3 lead.
First Quarter, 2:22, Cardinals 6-3: Even without Hernandez on the field, as he gets X-rays on the injured ankle, Tom Brady was able to lead the Pats on a scoring drive.
Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley made some solid catches to help get the Pats in position and then Stephen Gostkowski booted a 46-yarder through the uprights to cut the Cardinals lead to 6-3.
First Quarter, 5:12, Cardinals 6-0: The Patriots thought they were in trouble after an interception on the first series of the afternoon, but now it looks like they could be hurting even more.
Aaron Hernandez, who caught a touchdown in last week's win, had his right leg rolled up on by Julian Edelman as he was being tackled to the ground. And it doesn't look good.
Hernandez was helped out by the training staff on the field for about two minutes before being helped off and then taken directly back to the locker room for X-rays.
First Quarter, 7:42, Cardinals 6-0: It looks like Brady's miscue cost the Patriots, but not nearly as much as it could have.
After the turnover, the Cardinals were in prime position to make this a 10-point game. But a missed opportunity from Kolb on a pass to Todd Heap across the middle left a touchdown on the field.
Feely booted his second field goal of the afternoon, though, ripping a 47-yarder through the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
First Quarter, 7:52, Cardinals 3-0: A bad first defensive series was just one upped by the offense, as the first pass of the day was tipped and Patrick Peterson picked Brady off to give Arizona the ball back at the Patriots' 36-yard line.
A little miscomunication between Brady and Julian Edelman, who started in place of Wes Welker — surprise, surprise — was the cause of the turnover.
First Quarter, 8:42, Cardinals 3-0: Just like the first series in the Patriots opener a week ago, the defense looked overmatched and it resulted in an early 3-0 deficit.
Beanie Wells helped steady the Cardinals rushing attack with four carries for 12 yards, but it was the surprising 17-yard rush by wildcat QB Patrick Peterson that broke the drive open.
Jay Feely capped things off with a 38-yard field goal to give Arizona the early lead after a 13-play, 60-yard drive took 6:18 off the clock.
Kevin Kolb looked steady on the opening drive as well, hitting Fitzgerald and Early Doucet along the way to go 4 of 6 with 29 yards. He could be the answer for the Cardinals under center, and if not then Peterson is a definite possibility.
1 p.m.: There's plenty to keep an eye on as the Cardinals invades Gillette on Sunday. But here's three items to keep a close watch on.
1. Nate Solder's protection – Solder has been inconsistent since the start of training camp and although better still didn't live up to the high expectations in Week 1. After allowing Kamerion Wimbley to sack Brady, and subsequently bloody his nose, Solder did settle in. But will he find the rhythm on the line early against Calais Campbell and a fierce Arizona D?
2. Devin McCourty as no. 1 corner – McCourty looked good as the game against the Titans went on, but can he be the No. 1 corner expected when he went to the Pro Bowl in 2010? There were signs of both good and bad McCourty in Week 1, it'll be interesting to see what he does against Larry Fitzgerald in Week 2.
3. Can Ridley maintain? – After an impressive 21 carries and 125 yards in Week 1, Ridley seems like he could be the savior the Patriots have so sought after at the running back position. But with a stingy Cardinal D, can he produce again in Week 2?
12:30 p.m.: Both teams are out on the field and getting set in their positional drills.
It looks like Kevin Kolb is set for his first start of the season and to hopefully reclaim the job full time. There's a lot of expectation surrounding the Cardinals after a strong defensive showing in a Week 1 win over the Seahawks. But this Patriots bunch is a completely different beast.
On a side note, with three catches here on Sunday, Larry Fitzgerald will become the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 catches — 29 years, 116 days, let me know if I didn't do my math correctly. The current record is held by Texans wideout Andre Johnson, who did it at 30 years and some odd days.
11:50 a.m.: Shane Vereen was hopeful that he would be able to suit up for the first time this week, but it looks like the cards just didn't fall in his favor. But for Patriots guard Dan Connolly, the prognosis is looking a lot better.
Vereen leads a list of seven inactives for the Patriots on Sunday. He and newly-acquired wide receiver Greg Salas — in a trade with the Rams — highlight the list along with a number of rookies and a well-known tight end.
One potential surprise for Patriots fans, though, is that Connolly will be getting the go ahead and should be expected to start against the Cardinals at Gillette on Sunday.
Check out the full list of inactives for both sides below.
Greg Salas, WR
Shane Vereen, RB
Alfonzo Dennard, CB
Daniel Fells, TE
Jake Bequette, DE
Justin Francis, DE
Marcus Forston, DL
LaRon Byrd, WR
John Skelton, QB
William Powell, RB
Jamaal Westerman, LB
Senio Kelemete, G
Pat McQuistan, T
Jim Dray, TE
11:33 a.m.: It looks like the NFL referee issue has taken an entirely new turn on Sunday.
After so many questions of whether the replacement officials could even hack it with the calls coming into the season, it now looks like there might also be an issue of bias.
One replacement official was pulled from his assignment ahead of Sunday's games, because it was revealed that he was a Saints fan.
The allegiance is something that normal NFL refs do not have, especially given the league's thorough vetting of each official before hiring. These replacements, though, were not nearly given the proper follow through and could well be fanatics for any number of teams.
Check out the full story on the replaced replacement ref.
11:15 a.m.: Foxboro is bumping with the sound of country music and the smell of meats sizzling on the grill. That can only mean one thing: football's back at Gillette.
The Patriots are preparing for a scrappy Cardinals team at the Razor here on Sunday, and both teams are getting themselves all stretched and ready for gametime.
Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and some of the skill position players were out along the Patriots sidelines doing some stretching with the group.
As for Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald was at it yet again, pushing himself and his teammates in the pregame routine ahead of the 1 p.m. kickoff.
Check out a photo of the field below.
8 a.m. ET: Wes Welker only managed three catches in the Patriots' 34-13 win in Tennessee last Sunday, but he's looking to have a much bigger impact on the New England offense in Week 2.
Tom Brady turned to the tight ends last week to attack the Titans,
with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez both catching touchdown passes
in the lopsided victory. Stevan Ridley provided consistency in the running game with 125 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If that sort of production keeps up, the Cardinals will have an almost impossible time containing the Patriots' offense at Gillette on Sunday.
While the Patriots have the stability of Brady under center, Arizona's quarterback situation is in flux. Opening day starter John Skelton was carrying the load in Week 1 before an ankle injury ended his day. After Kevin Kolb led the Cards to a game-winning touchdown drive over the Seahawks, it could now be his job to lose.
Kickoff for the Patriots' home opener is set for 1 p.m. Be sure to keep it here all afternoon long for all your news, notes and analysis of everything Patriots-Cardinals.