1. Belichick says the story behind Sunday's win is bigger than Garopplo's performance.
Although Jimmy Garoppolo's teammates mostly heaped praise upon him and generally had only nice things to say about the fill-in quarterback's performance Sunday night, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick warned writers not to bury the lead.
Yes, Garoppolo played well during the Patriots' 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, Belichick conceded. But that wasn't the biggest story of the game, he reminded anyone still willing to listen.
This is how the coach responded when someone asked him about Monday morning's story line being that Garoppolo had a whale of a game and whether Belichick was minimizing the quarterback's effort:
"I mean, I'm really, really concerned about the story line. Like, there's really nothing higher on my list than the story line tomorrow. We beat a good team on the road. We've got a lot of work to do. That's all of us -- coaching, playing, offense, defense, special teams. That's what I saw in the game. But, I can't wait to read it tomorrow."
Garoppolo is only keeping the seat warm until Tom Brady returns from his four-game suspension, but he more than held his own against the Cardinals, completing 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
"He's a confident guy," Patriots defensive end Chris Long said of the third-year pro. "He's got quiet confidence. Everybody on this team is confident in him. We knew that if we stuck to our game plan we were going to have a chance to win it in the end, and he made some really gutsy plays to help us win."
Added safety Devin McCourty, "I'm happy he went out there, did it, and everyone can shut up now and watch the guy get better and grow and us keep improving as a team in the early part of the season. I believe in everybody on this team."
Garoppolo said it was easy to stay poised during the game. He looked incredibly relaxed on his 37-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to Chris Hogan, who torched Cardinals rookie cornerback Brandon Williams on the play.
"The play with Chris, he had a great release and it makes it an easy throw for me."
Asked if he used the doubts of others as inspiration, Garoppolo shook his head.
"I didn't really think about it too much, I guess," he said. "(The Cardinals) are a very talented defense, and that's a good group of players out there. They gave us all we could handle tonight. It was a good test for us. Whoever is out there, we have confidence in one another, and that's a good thing we have going for us."
2. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who caught two touchdown passes against the Patriots to give him 100 for his career, responded to internet reports about him allegedly telling close friends that he expects this to be his last season in the NFL.
"I don't know what I'm having for dinner tonight let alone what I am doing next year," Fitzgerald said. "I signed another year for a reason. I believe in what we are doing here. I believe in the guys that I have in this room. ... The internet, they can speculate about anything and it goes viral. I saw a seven-legged dog cross the street this morning, but I didn't tweet it. I am pretty sure if I would of, it would have gone viral, too. That is the nature of the beast now."
3. Patriots coach Bill Belichick now has 224 career regular-season wins and needs three more to move past Curly Lambeau for fourth place overall. Don Shula leads all coaches with 328 career regular-season wins, followed by George Halas (318) and Tom Landry (250).
4. The Cardinals' defense had trouble stopping the Patriots on third down as New England converted 10 out of 16 times (63 percent).
"Missed assignments," Arizona inside linebacker Kevin Minter said. "We just didn't execute and they did. That was the tale of the whole game from start to finish."
5. New England recorded at least one sack in a 30th consecutive game, the longest such streak in the NFL. The Patriots recorded three sacks Sunday night on the Cardinals' Carson Palmer. The last time they were held without a sack was Sept. 21, 2014, against the Oakland Raiders.
6. Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro said his missed 47-yard field goal attempt, which he pulled left after a poor snap from rookie Kameron Canaday, was his fault and not Canaday's.
"I've got to make that kick, just a good old-fashioned miss," he said. "That's on me. This game falls on my shoulders. I appreciate the opportunity the offense gave me. Had a great drive down the field, I've got to make the kick. I'll make the next one. ... It's on me. It's not on Kam at all. It's on me. Yeah, that falls on my shoulders. That's my fault."
8. When the Patriots scored on their first drive of the game -- on Garoppolo's 37-yard touchdown throw to Hogan -- it marked the first time New England has scored on its first offensive drive in a season opener since Sept 12, 2011, against Miami.