Patriots rally to beat Cardinals, Kyler Murray hurt

New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 12 in Glendale, Ariz.Ross Franklin/AP

Mac Jones passes for 235 yards and Raekwon McMillan hits a key fumble back to give the New England Patriots a 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, who lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray critically in the first quarter knee injury.

New England trailed 13-10 at halftime but tied it at 13 after a short field goal early in the third quarter. The Patriots got the game-changing play and took a 20-13 lead late in the third quarter when McMillan picked up a fumble and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown.

Kyle Dugger robbed three-time All-Pro Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had just caught a pass.

The Patriots extended their advantage to 27-13 on a Pierre Strong Jr. 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter, then relied on their defense to seal the much-needed victory.

Jones went 24-for-35 from the field as New England (7-6) snapped a two-game losing streak to stay in contention for the AFC playoffs. Arizona (4-9) has lost five of its six games, including the final three.

Murray was injured in Game 3 of the game, instantly changing the face of the night. The fourth-year quarterback was caught out of the pocket and to his right while trying to get past a Patriots defender, but fell to the grass in apparent pain.

Players from both teams surrounded the quarterback before he was lifted off the field with a towel over his head.

The 36-year-old Colt McCoy has proven to be a capable replacement for Murray over the past two seasons, going 3-2 going into Monday’s game with Murray injured. He worked his magic again — at least for a while — to lead the Cardinals to a 13-10 halftime lead.

The Cardinals took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter after a 33-yard field goal by Matt Platt. Their offense was well positioned after Isaiah Simmons intercepted a pass from Jones, who was hit in the arm by rookie Cam Thomas on a throw.

James Conner drove a 10-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to break up multiple tackles and the Cardinals took a 13-7 lead late in the second quarter. Conner finished the game with a team-high 85 rushing yards.

The Patriots scored their only touchdown of the first half when rookie Kevin Harris ran for 14 yards to the end zone.

Arizona’s recent hopes as a team revolve around the development of Murray, who was drafted No. 1 overall out of Oklahoma in 2019.

The quarterback’s fourth year has been a tough one. That was before the injury on Monday.

Murray signed a $230.5 million contract in the offseason that would keep him with the team through 2028, but that’s when the steady stream of unwelcome headlines began.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection received a lot of derision after it was discovered that his new contract required at least four hours of “independent study” during the game week, which is unusual for an NFL quarterback. The clause was later removed, but it did damage to his reputation.

Murray also battled COVID-19 during training camp, which kept him out for about a week, and was recently criticized by former teammate Patrick Peterson, who said on his “All Things Covered” podcast that “Kaylor Murray Don’t care about anyone but Kyler Murray.”

Now he has to deal with what could be the worst injury of his career. In 10 games before Monday’s injury, he had thrown for 2,359 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

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