Patriots

Cardinals beat Titans, knock them out of AFC South lead

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Cardinals beat Titans, knock them out of AFC South lead

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Dawson hasn't had the greatest season and missed another field goal on Sunday.

He made the other four, though, all the offense the Arizona Cardinals needed in a 12-7 victory that knocked the Tennessee Titans out of first place in the AFC South.

Dawson connected from 47, 23, 32 and 35 yards and missed from 40 for the Cardinals (6-7), whose victory came two weeks after they beat then-AFC South leader Jacksonville on the same field.

"It wasn't our most fancy or nifty offensive performance I've ever been a part of," Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald said. "But it's a win and we'll take them."

The Cardinals intercepted Marcus Mariota twice in the second half after the Titans (8-5) nursed a 7-0 lead at halftime.

Mariota completed 16 of 31 passes for 159 yards. Tennessee managed 65 yards rushing against the Cardinals after gaining 198 on the ground in a win over Houston a week ago.

Mariota was 6 of 16 for 60 yards with two picks in the second half.

"Frustration is an understatement," Mariota said. "Defense played lights-out, special teams did their job and I've been hurting our team. I've got to find ways to be better."

Mariota said he hurt his knee in the first half when he didn't slide soon enough to protect himself, but he wouldn't use that as an excuse for his performance.

The Cardinals gained 64 yards in the first half and 197 in the second.

Blaine Gabbert completed 17 of 26 for 178 yards for Arizona with no interceptions, but was sacked eight times, most by a Cardinals quarterback this season. Kerwynn Williams rushed for 73 yards as Arizona, ranked last in the NFL in rushing, outgained Tennessee on the ground 136-65.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians improved to 7-1 against the AFC South.

"I know what everybody is going to say. `It's an ugly win,'" Arians said. "There is no such thing."

The game's lone TD came after Andy Lee's 33-yard punt gave Tennessee the ball at the 50. The Titans needed nine plays, Derrick Henry sweeping right and diving at the pylon on the 6-yard touchdown play in the second quarter.

Mariota directed the Titans on a drive from their 26-yard line to the Arizona 40 in the final 49 seconds of the half, but Ryan Succop's 58-yard field-goal try bounced off the crossbar.

Arizona took the second-half kickoff and, despite Tennessee getting two sacks, got a 47-yard field goal from Dawson to cut the lead to 7-3.

Then came a big Tennessee gamble.

After the subsequent kickoff, the Titans faked a punt on fourth-and-1 from their 35. Initially, officials ruled that Eric Weems had made the first down. But Arians challenged the spot and, after a review, it was determined the runner came up a few inches short.

Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey said he probably got "a little over-aggressive" with the fake punt call.

But, he said, "We should have got it. I thought we had it. Both officials had the mark as a first down. I was standing right behind them. I don't know how it got overturned."

The Cardinals took over and Dawson's 23-yard field goal cut the lead to 7-6.

Dawson missed a 40 yarder that would have given the Cardinals the lead with 12:04 to play. But the 42-year-old kicker would get another chance.

Rookie Chad Williams ran 33 yards on an end-around to ignite an eight-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Dawson's 32-yard field goal to put Arizona ahead 9-7 with 5:59 to play.

Josh Bynes intercepted Mariota over the middle on the next possession and returned it 25 yards. A late-hit penalty against the Titans play moved the ball to the Tennessee 7. Jurrell Casey's second sack of the game forced yet another field goal by Dawson, good from 35 yards to finish the scoring.

The Titans will stay in the desert and practice next week at Arizona State University to prepare for next Sunday's game at San Francisco.

FITZ MOVES UP

With his 23-yard catch on the Cardinals' first possession of the second half, Fitzgerald moved past his boyhood idol Randy Moss into third place on the NFL career yards receiving list, trailing only Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice.

Fitzgerald was a ball boy for the Vikings and used to wash Moss' cars for cash, and even borrowed his BMW to go to the high school prom.

INJURIES

The Titans lost starting left tackle Taylor Lewan in the second quarter with a lower back injury. Arizona outside linebacker Gabe Martin left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.

UP NEXT

Titans: at San Francisco next Sunday.

Cardinals: at Washington next Sunday.

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Gronkowski says 'no' to optional workouts in strange press conference

Gronkowski says 'no' to optional workouts in strange press conference

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski held a strange press conference on Saturday, which he attended in full Supercross gear. Even for the goofy Patriots tight end, that's a little odd.

But what made it even more head-scratching is that the presser occurred inside Gillette Stadium, about a 15-second walk away from the Patriots weight room, which Gronkowski steered clear of last week during the team's first few voluntary workouts of the offseason. 

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran described Tom Brady and Gronkowski's absence from the workouts as part of an "open revolt" earlier this week. Gronkowski's presence in the building Saturday didn't have the feel of a peace offering. 

Told that fans would wonder why Gronkowski was able to make it to One Patriot Place for a Supercross event and not for workouts -- workouts which are traditionally extremely well-attended in Foxboro -- he cracked, "Training for this dirt-biking."

Asked if he planned on attending optional workouts that are upcoming, he answered, "No." He then added, "I've got dirt-biking skills to work on."

After avoiding a few questions on the topic of whether or not he would return to the Patriots in 2018, Gronkowski did seem to hint that he planned to play football next season, drawing laughter from a crowd that included Gronkowski's father, one of his brothers and multiple friends, including former Patriots Stevan Ridley and Rob Ninkovich.

How much weight should be put into comments made by Gronkowski during a press conference that was, essentially, one long promotional joke? Debatable. But the fact that he was willing to show up to the place he avoided during the week, then have a good laugh about his future with the team that he's captained the last two seasons? That might not sit very well with those who are looking ahead to the upcoming season and wondering about the All-Pro tight end's plans.

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Tom Brady applauds Nick Foles' restructured contract

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Tom Brady applauds Nick Foles' restructured contract

Though Tom Brady has skipped the Patriots' offseason workout program, he hasn't missed a beat on Instagram. 

On Friday, it was the news of Nick Foles restructuring his contract with the Eagles that got Brady's attention in the form of a like and a comment applauding the move. Foles, who beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, got a $2 million signing bonus and will now have a mutual option for the 2019 season.