GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mac Jones threw for 235 yards, Raekwon McMillan had a crucial fumble return for a touchdown and the New England Patriots rallied for a 27-13 win on Monday night over the Arizona Cardinals, who lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray in the first quarter to a potentially serious knee injury.
New England trailed 13-10 at the break but tied the game at 13-all early in the third quarter after a short field goal. The Patriots got their game-changing play and a 20-13 lead later in the third when McMillan scooped up a fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
Kyle Dugger forced the fumble by stripping Cardinals three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had just caught a pass.
The Patriots pushed their advantage to 27-13 early in the fourth quarter on Pierre Strong Jr.’s 3-yard run, then leaned on their defense to complete the much-needed win.
Jones finished 24 for 35 with an interception as New England (7-6) snapped a two-game losing skid to stay in the AFC playoff hunt. Arizona (4-9) has lost five of six games, including the last three.
Murray was hurt on the third play of the game, immediately changing the complexion of the evening. The fourth-year quarterback was flushed out of the pocket and running to his right when he tried to juke past a Patriots defender, but tumbled to the grass in obvious pain.
Players from both teams surrounded the quarterback before he was carted off the field with a towel draped over his head.
The 36-year-old Colt McCoy has proven a capable replacement for Murray over the past two seasons, coming into Monday’s game with a 3-2 mark when Murray was injured. He worked his magic again — at least for a while — leading 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 Prater. They had good field position for the drive after Isaiah Simmons intercepted a pass from Jones, who was hit on the arm by rookie Cam Thomas as he was throwing.
James Conner bulldozed his way forward for a 10-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, breaking multiple tackles to give the Cardinals a 13-7 lead late in the second quarter. Conner finished with a team-high 85 yards rushing.
The Patriots scored their lone touchdown of the first half when rookie Kevin Harris ran 14 yards to the end zone.