Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Chiefs Overcome Slow Start in Victory over Patriots

The Kansas City Chiefs improved to 4-0 on the season with a 26-10 victory over the Cam Newton-less Patriots on Monday night.

Although the Chiefs offense was very underwhelming at times for most of the game, Head Coach Andy Reid was happy with his offense at times and acknowledged that this could be a learning moment.

“I thought we made plays when we had to make plays,” Reid said to reporters after the game. “We can learn from this and we have to do better in a lot of areas.”

It was a very unusual game for Kansas City, as nothing was clicking offensively for the high-powered offense. The Chiefs’ first three drives concluded with two field goals and a punt, and it was the first time in the Patrick Mahomes-Reid era to not score a touchdown on the team’s first four possessions. During the first drive, the Chiefs offense gained 70 yards on nine plays before stalling at the five-yard line. After the Chiefs kicked their second field goal of the game to increase their lead 6-0, the Kansas City defense gave the Chiefs offense another opportunity when safety Juan Thornhill intercepted Brian Hoyer’s errant pass. This set up the Chiefs with the ball at New England’s 23-yard line.

Still in the first quarter, the Chiefs found a way to blow the opportunity when Sammy Watkins had the ball punched out by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, giving the Chiefs their second turnover of the season. The Patriots went on to go on a slow-moving, thorough drive that resulted in a field goal with about nine minutes left in the second quarter.

Kansas City’s next drive in the second quarter looked much like the previous drives, but the Chiefs were fortunate that it did not end worse for them. On third down, from the Chief’s own 42, the Patriots defense sacked Mahomes and he seemed to fumble. However, the referees blew the play dead, negating a fumble recovery for New England. Head referee Tony Corrente was asked after the game about why the whistle was blown and what he saw on the play.

“I felt that he [Mahomes] was being controlled quite a bit prior to him actually going to the ground,” Corrente told reporters after the game. “And as he was being controlled, other players were coming in at him. And so with those other players baring down on him, a quarterback is considered in the grasp and his forward progress is considered stopped when I feel as though the player’s safety is being jeopardized.”

The Chiefs would punt the ball to New England with a little over five minutes remaining in the first half. The Patriots would once again go on a meticulous drive that would take the duration of the first half, but like the Chiefs earlier in the half, the drive ended with no points. New England was at Kansas City’s 13-yard line with 12 seconds left and no timeouts. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Hoyer was lackadaisical and took a costly sack by defensive end Frank Clark and the time ran out. A drive that was primed for points, suddenly turned to nothing, and the Chiefs were somehow up 6-3 heading into the half. This was the third time in Mahomes’ career so far that he has been held without a touchdown in the first half. All of those occurrences have been against Belichick and the New England Patriots.

To begin the third quarter, New England would go three-and-out on their first drive followed by Kansas City showing promise early in the drive before disappointingly sputtering and forcing them to punt. The Patriots showed great poise and control on their next drive, and it finally felt like New England would somehow score and take the lead in the game, even though the Chiefs were heavily favored due to Cam Newton testing positive for COVID-19. However, Hoyer came up short again, and was strip sacked by Kansas City’s defensive end Taco Charlton. This would be Hoyer’s last snap of the night before the Patriots brought in Jarrett Stidham late in the third quarter.

The Chiefs’ next drive finally showed what it is capable of when firing on all cylinders. Mahomes began the drive with a 19-yard completion to receiver Tyreek Hill, then hitting tight end Travis Kelce across the field for 45 yards. In just two plays the Chiefs were already in the red zone. Kansas City capped off the drive with Mahomes running a fake read option and a shovel pass to Tyreek Hill, who found the edge and dove into the endzone. The Chiefs would go up 13-3 going into the fourth quarter.

After a couple of big plays, New England found themselves near Kansas City’s goal line, and Stidham was able to find second-year wideout N’Keal Harry on a fade route. The Patriots trimmed Kansas City’s lead to 13-10. Chiefs would quickly respond with a touchdown of their own when Mahomes connected with speed specialist Mecole Hardman on a shovel pass. Harrison Butker would miss the extra point, but nonetheless, the Chiefs were up 19-10 in the fourth quarter.

Patriots next drive would be the death of them and solidify the victory for the Chiefs. Stidham would find veteran Julian Edelman in the flat, but the ball went through Edelman’s hands, falling right into safety Tyrann Mathieu’s lap. Mathieu would gallop into the endzone, extending Kansas City’s lead to 26-10. The Chiefs would make another interception late and bleed out the clock to remain undefeated. Mahomes would complete 19 of 29 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Travis Kelce led the team in receiving with 70 yards, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the team in rushing with 64 yards on 16 carries. The often forgotten Chiefs defense forced four turnovers and were a key part in Kansas City coming out on top on a night with their offense lacking productivity.

The Chiefs will host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium at 12 p.m.

laldpy@mail.umkc.edu

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