Bill Belichick surprised at contributions of newest Patriots in win over Cardinals

Almost four weeks before their latest win, the Patriots scooped up Donte Moncrief off the street.
Two weeks later, they signed Akeem Spence off his couch.
On Sunday, the Pats were elated to have them both on the field.
Moncrief recorded the Patriots’ longest kick return of the season in the first quarter of a 20-17 squeaker over the Cardinals, while Spence logged double-digit snaps in the middle of the team’s defense. The kick return provided a sluggish Pats offense a short field, which Cam Newton and Co. covered for their first touchdown. Later, Spence was at the heart of a goal-line stand that kept Arizona from scoring at the end of the first half of a 3-point game.
Their early impacts even shocked Bill Belichick.
“Yeah, I’d say a little bit surprising to tell you the truth,” Belichick said post-game. “Some of the players that have come in, how they’ve kind of been thrust into some roles. They’ve worked really hard to try to pick things up, be ready to go.”
Likely compounding Belichick’s surprise is the fact Moncrief hadn’t returned a kick since 2014, his rookie season with the Colts. The 8-year veteran initially steered right Sunday, then shed a couple tacklers and found a wide open field. Since the start of the season, the kick return job had belonged to Gunner Olszewski when healthy.
But, needing a spark, special teams coordinator Cam Achord approached Moncrief about returning in practice this week and immediately put him to work.
“We had the right return on and Jak [Jakob Johnson] and Gunner made two great blocks. So, I just followed them and I saw the hole and I hit the crease,” Moncrief said. “I remember coach telling me early on in a week, he was like, ‘There’s going be a hole, you’ve just got to hit it.’ I just put my trust in what he told me, and when I did it, it worked.”
Moncrief said adjusting to the Patriots organization has been unlike any other transition he’s made in the NFL, going from Indianapolis to Jacksonville, then Carolina and Pittsburgh for short stints. Spence is equally well-traveled, now on his sixth team. The 300-pounder stacked up a couple Cardinals runs early, then saved his best for the last of the opening half.
After Pats linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley fired through an open gap to meet Arizona running back Kenyan Drake at the 1-yard line, Spence, the closest D-lineman, wrapped him up for no gain on fourth-and-goal. The Cardinals maintained their 10-7 lead at the break and were then held to one touchdown the rest of the way.
“Just ‘mano a mano’, just wanting to make the play and keep points off the board, which was really helpful going into halftime,” Spence said. “It just so happened that the ball chose my gap, and being a defensive tackle, you take pride in your gap.”

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