By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

FOXBORO (CBS) — With the way things began on Sunday afternoon, nobody could have ever thought that the Patriots would be pulling out a win. An early pick from Cam Newton, a 10-0 deficit by the end of the first quarter, and an all-around flat start for the home team made it seem like New England was in for a long day.

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Yet special teams delivered a couple of key plays, the defense made some critical stops, and the offense did just enough for the Patriots to pull off a 20-17 win over the Cardinals.

Here are the Ups and Downs.

FOUR UPS

Nick Folk

It’s crazy to think how far the veteran kicker has come since last year, when he was a question mark every time he trotted onto the field. Now, he’s money.

Folk booted a 50-yard game winner as time expired in the fourth quarter. Needless to say … it was a big one.

Folk was 2-for-2 on field goals in the game, also connecting on a chip shot, while going 2-for-2 on PATs. He’s now made 19 straight field goals. That was his second last-second game-winner from 50 or more yards this season.

He’s money.

Ja’Whaun Bentley, Akeem Spence, Myles Bryant, Jason McCourty, Adam Butler

Patriots stop KeeSean Johnson (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The Patriots desperately needed a stop before halftime. This quintet of defenders made it.

First, on third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Jason McCourty and Adam Butler muscled receiver KeeSean Johnson down to the turf juuuust before the ball crossed the goal line. Cornerback Myles Bryant got involved, too.

That play was all effort, and after a replay review, a touchdown was taken off the board and the Cardinals got the ball inside the 1-yard line.

On the resulting fourth-and-goal, the Cardinals tried to punch it in rather than take the field goal before halftime. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Akeem Spence had other ideas. Throw Lawrence Guy in there for overpowering the Cardinals’ O-line and leading to the disruption.

That play kept the Cardinals off the board, with the score remaining at 10-7 in favor of Arizona at the break.

Adam Butler, Adrian Phillips

Adrian Phillips (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Another critical defensive play was turned in by a pair of Patriots when Adam Butler batted down a Kyler Murray pass, tipping it high into the air. Adrian Phillips was part of a gaggle of Patriots waiting for that ball to come down, and the safety made the pick.

Six plays later, James White was in the end zone for the second time of the game, and the Patriots had their first lead of the game at 17-10.

James White

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Scoring touchdowns has proven to be difficult for James White and for the Patriots as a team this year. Those issues were soothed significantly on Sunday when White scored twice.

The first came on a fourth-and-2 from the 7-yard line. White took an option pitch from Cam Newton and made a decisive cut to burst toward the goal line.

The second one came on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. White took a pitch to the left side and outran everyone to the pylon to give New England a lead.

Those were White’s first touchdowns of the whole season, and they were the Patriots’ only touchdowns on the day.

Honorable Mentions

Jake Bailey remains a weapon. His first punt was downed at the Arizona 3-yard line. … Cam Newton had a bad day but did turn in the game-winning play, bursting for 14 yards on third-and-13 and drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to get New England deep into Arizona territory. A 5-yard completion on the next play helped make the game-winner more manageable. … Donte Moncrief took over kick returning duties and sprung free for a 53-yard return late in the first quarter to help spark New England on its first scoring drive of the day. … Gunner Olszewski, who lost those kick return responsibilities, would have had himself an 82-yard punt return if not for an unnecessary blindside block by Anfernee Jennings to negate the score. Regardless, the return did lead to a Patriots field goal. … Jakobi Meyers was basically the only Patriots pass catcher on the day, accounting for five of the Patriots’ nine receptions and 52 of the Patriots’ 84 receiving yards.

FOUR DOWNS

Cam Newton

Cam Newton (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The run to win the game obviously outweighs a lot, but this was still an ugly one for Cam. He was 9-for-18 for just 84 yards with no touchdowns and two picks.

The first pick came when he didn’t recognize a blitz up the gut on the opening possession, allowing Jordan Hicks to deliver a hit as the QB was throwing the ball.

The second interception looked like it was going to cost the Patriots the game, as Newton threw an ill-advised ball to Damiere Byrd up the left sideline with 4:30 left in a tie game.

Newton was effective as a runner, but that was once again a tough showing as a passer.

Jason McCourty, Stephon Gilmore

While trying to cling to a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter, the Patriots kept coming up with defensive stops. The Patriots also kept committing penalties.

The first came when Jason McCourty very clearly held tight end Dan Arnold on a failed fourth-down attempt by Arizona. That infraction gave the Cardinals a new set of downs.

On the third-and-goal of that resulting fresh set of downs, Stephon Gilmore grabbed a jersey full of DeAndre Hopkins, drawing yet another defensive holding flag.

The Cardinals eventually capitalized by punching it in for a touchdown, with some major help to undisciplined play from the Patriots’ secondary.

N’Keal Harry

N’Keal Harry runs for a 2-yard loss vs. the Cardinals. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The receiver had a holding penalty which negated a 10-yard run by Newton, he had a drop while running a slant two plays later, and he had one rush for a loss of two yards. He finished the day with no catches and was a net negative for an offense that could desperately use some contributions outside of Jakobi Meyers.

Anfernee Jennings

The rule may be worded poorly, but Jennings nevertheless committed an “illegal blindside block” by the letter of the law. Argue with it all you want, but blowing up a player like that while delivering the force to one’s own goal line is going to draw the flag every time. Not a wise play by the rookie, and it cost the Patriots four points.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.