FOXBORO, Mass. — Isaiah Simmons’ illegal hit on Cam Newton helped propel the New England Patriots to a 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
It also elicited a strong reaction from New England’s sideline.
After Simmons decked Newton out of bounds with a borderline helmet-to-helmet hit that earned him a 15-yard penalty, a swarm of Patriots players rushed to the quarterback’s defense, sparking a brief post-whistle scrum.
Running back James White called the Patriots’ response to the hit “very important.”
“We definitely won?t let guys take cheap shots on (our) quarterback,” White said in his postgame video conference. “And at the same time, you?ve got to be composed, because we don?t want to get a flag in that situation, as well, and move us backward. I think everybody did a great job of protecting him without getting a flag, because that would have been a huge mistake.”
Center David Andrews, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and tight end Ryan Izzo all were involved in the scrap, as was Cardinals safety Chris Banjo. Several others on both sides played peacekeeper, ensuring no additional flags were thrown.
?If you touch one of our guys, we?re definitely going to come,” Patriots safety/linebacker Adrian Phillips said. “It?s a family over here. We understand that. We?ve got to have each other?s back if we want to take it the distance, and you can?t let anyone take cheap shots or get in any one of your teammates? face.
“Because one, it?s just disrespectful, and two, to me that?s them trying to dictate the physicality of the game, and you just can?t let that happen. So we knew that without a doubt, the team was going to rush to go to Cam?s defense. But it was still good to see it.”
Simmons delivered his hit after Newton ran for a first down on third-and-13 with less than a minute remaining. The Patriots picked up an additional 7 yards on the next two plays to set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 50-yard field goal.
Arizona kicker Zane Gonzalez had missed from 45 yards on the previous drive.
“I?m happy Cam got back up,” Eluemunor said. “That just shows how tough he is. He?s one of the toughest people I?ve been around, and you feed off that energy. Him getting up and running back to the huddle, you?re like, ?Damn, let?s go now. We ain?t got a choice. We have to win this game.?”
Newton, who finished with a career-low 84 passing yards in the win, appreciated his teammates’ support.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It means a lot. … The time I was down, to see the guys come to your protection, it means a lot. It means a lot. For them to show that, I’m pretty sure they know I’d do the same thing for (them).”