Patrick Peterson breaks off a 17-ard run while running the wildcat on offense Sunday.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Rushing for a first down? Check.
Game-saving tackle? Check.
Sounds like just another day at the office for Patrick Peterson.
Maybe Larry Fitzgerald, the All-Pro receiver, was right when he said Peterson is a once-in-a-decade type of player. The kid can do it all.
Peterson, in his second season out of Louisiana State University, single-handedly kick-started the Cardinals' engines Sunday against the Patriots. He then kept them roaring in a 20-18 win at Gillette Stadium.
"I expect myself to do whatever it takes for the team to win ballgames," Peterson said. "That's what we did today."
Known for being among the best punt returners in the NFL, Peterson is also the Cardinals' quarterback in their Wildcat offense. It was unveiled Sunday for the first time this season and caught nearly everyone – including the Patriots – off guard. On the Cards' sixth play of the game, Peterson took the snap and ran 17 yards off left end before being pushed out of bounds. He replaced starting quarterback Kevin Kolb once more, in the third quarter, and handed off to LaRod Stephens-Howling.
Besides in Wildcat formations, Peterson hasn't played quarterback since his days at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla. As a three-year starter, Peterson's role in high school was similar to his on Sunday: Do a little bit of everything, including quarterback.
But he's paid to be a return man and a cornerback in the NFL.
On Sunday, he only returned one of three punts for just three yards but fared better on defense. He intercepted Tom Brady's first pass of the afternoon after it was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Darnell Dockett.
"He's a great athlete overall," defensive tackle Dan Williams said. "You can't just say he's a corner. He's definitely an athlete. They haven't been throwing his way often."
Both the 17-yard run and the interception led to field goals by Jay Feely to give the Cardinals a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. It was a tackle in the fourth quarter, however, that helped save the game.
On a third-and-1 play from the Cardinals' 39, the Patriots brought in an extra tight end. To Peterson, that meant one thing: run to the opposite side. But he had a hunch the play was coming his way. Sure enough, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley headed toward Peterson, who tackled him for a four-yard loss. The play forced New England to punt.
"I had to come up big and set the edge and I did set the edge," Peterson said.
Kolb thinks the Cardinals will continue to expand the Wildcat package, which means Peterson will be on the field even more.
What else is there for him to do? We'll have to wait and see what's under his cape next week.
"He's got all the ability in the world," Fitzgerald said. "I've said it for a long time: the sky's the limit for him."