Well, New England…that is not what we expected.
What started as a celebratory night in Foxboro, ended with a stunning loss to a Kansas City Chiefs team that dominated last night’s football game. The Chiefs looked faster, more efficient and better prepared than the home town team in the 2017 NFL season opener.
Wait…wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around??
Apparently, someone forgot to tell that to the Kansas City Chiefs, who went into Gillette Stadium and beat the New England Patriots 42-27. On a night when the defending Super Bowl Champions unveiled their fifth championship banner, it was their opponents that earned the night’s accolades. The Chiefs ran 63 plays and gained 541 total yards (352 by air and 189 on the ground.) In fact, Kansas City surpassed their own ‘record’ from 2014, and scored more points than any team ever has against a Bill Belichick-coached team.
The Brutal Truth
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith out dueled Pats quarterback Tom Brady and put together one of the best games of his NFL career. Smith completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt compiled 246 total yards, which was the most ever by a player in Week 1 of his rookie season. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill scorched the Patriots’ secondary for seven catches (one for a touchdown) and 133 yards. When all was said and done, the Chiefs had pasted 42 points on a Patriots defense that allowed fewer points than any in the NFL last season.
The Chiefs defense also won the night against their New England offensive counterparts. While Brady has seen many a more formidable pass rush, they were able to harass him into what Pats fans hope will be one of his worst games of the season. Brady completed only 16 of 36 passes for 267 yards, and did not throw a touchdown pass. He had problems breaking loose from KC linebacker Justin Houston, who sacked him twice. Mike Gillislee provided one of the few bright spots for the Pats and rumbled in for three rushing scores. However, miscues and near-misses continued to doom the Patriots all night. Their two most potent offensive weapons, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Rob Gronkowski, could not find a consistent rhythm. In short, it was a long night in Foxboro for all the wrong reasons.
The Turning Point
For the first few minutes of this game, it looked like the Patriots had picked up exactly where they left off in Super Bowl LI. Brady and the offense marched right down the field for a score on their first drive of the season. When Kareem Hunt fumbled on the ensuing Chiefs drive (something he had never done before during his entire college career), New England looked poised to take a two-score lead. In fact, it appeared they had when Tom Brady found Rob Gronkowski for a score down the middle of the field. However the touchdown was overturned by replay review and the Pats eventually turned the ball over on downs.
From that point on, it became a game of point-counterpoint; and the Chiefs won it. The Chiefs answered with a touchdown on their next drive and they were right back in the game. The Patriots built a lead, and the Chiefs came back to take one of their own. The see-saw matchup continued until late in the third quarter. At that point, the Chiefs racked up 21 straight points and put the game away.
As hard as it might be for New England fans to admit, it looks like the Pats had bought into their own hype, just a bit. Based on how they performed Thursday night, it appeared they convinced themselves they’d not only beat the Chiefs, but they might have had an eye on chasing the elusive dream of a 19-0 season. However, as Sammy Davis Jr. once belted out in his hit song, ‘Eee-oh Eleven,’ …”Dream Dead.”
However, dreams of a third Super Bowl title in four years are still very much alive and well. Although this loss is disheartening, it is far from a declaration of the Patriots demise. However, there is work to be done, and the Pats know it. After the game, Tom Brady had some atypically pointed and direct advice for himself, and his teammates, as they prepare for next week’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
“We just have to be a lot better in a lot of areas, starting with our attitude and our competitiveness,” Brady said. “We’re going to have to do a lot better than tonight.”
Head coach Bill Belichick echoed Brady’s sentiments as well. He described his team’s performance with few words and, as usual, left no gray area in his assessment:
“Bad defense, Bad coaching, bad (offensive) playing, bad football.”
On a lighter note…Roger Was Here
In what has been a long awaited return, and not in a good way, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand for Thursday night’s contest. To no one’s surprise, he did not receive a friendly reception from the Gillette Stadium crowd. Goodell was mercilessly booed by Patriots fans, many of whom were waiving light blue towels, which (also to no one’s surprise) were not mentioned during the telecast on NBC. Perhaps it might have something to do with the image on the towel itself? For those who do not know, the towel bore an image of Goodell sporting a prominent red clown nose. The happening, sponsored by Barstool Sports and dubbed ‘Operation Clown Face,’ was a comical and obvious protest of Goodell’s decision to suspend Tom Brady for the first four games of last season.
Patriots Wide Receiver Danny Amendola left the field in in the second half and entered the concussion protocol. Expect an update on his status sometime Friday, September 8.
Patriots linebacker Donte Hightower left the field with a knee injury and did not return. He was seen riding a stationary bike on the sidelines, however more details will be forthcoming.
Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was seen hobbling to the locker room with cramps in his leg, however he returned to the game.
Chiefs safety Eric Berry was carted off during the fourth quarter with an Achilles injury that he suffered on a non-contact play. Details on his condition are expected on Friday, September 8.
Up Next for the Pats…
…they’re on to New Orleans.
The Patriots travel to New Orleans to take on the the Saints on Sunday, September 17 at 1:00pm.
–Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32.com/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots. He is also a National Content Writer for cover32.com.