Monday, October 5, 2020

Patriots Meltdown in KC, Lose 26-10

This is what "Patriots Football" meant before Bill Belichick arrived. The Patriots missed multiple opportunities against the Chiefs and came away 26-10 losers in a game that should have been much closer and probably could have been a win. The loss put them two full games back in the AFC East, the first time that's happened since week 7 of 2002. (Trivia question: name the team that led the division that week; answer below.) Next week the hapless Broncos come to town to face the suddenly hapless Patriots.

This has to be the most frustrating Patriots game since the loss to Philly in the Super Bowl. You remember, when Malcolm Butler stood on the sideline, only occasionally grabbing a fire extinguisher to put out yet another burned Patriots defensive back.

New England had multiple golden opportunities to stop KC, score more points, or turn momentum in their favor. They missed at least six such opportunities -- here they are.

Three missed opportunities on defense:

1. Devin McCourty dropped an easy INT on the first drive of the game. That would have likely disheartened the Chiefs a bit, but at the very least would have taken three KC points off the board.

2. Late in the game, J.C. Jackson missed an equally easy INT, a play that would have given the Patriots the ball, trailing by three points with plenty of time to score. After the mistake, the Chiefs scored a TD and made the game much tougher to win.

3. Earlier in the game, Chase Winovich strip-sacked Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, and the ball popped right into LB Shilique Calhoun's hands. But the referee's incorrectly ruled Mahomes down because he was "in the grasp" -- a ruling that was seen as incorrect by the CBS broadcast refereeing expert.

(Note: the play was not reviewable because "in the grasp" is a judgment call by the official and thus not subject to review.)

Three missed opportunities on offense:

1. As the first half drew to a close, the Patriots had the ball in easy field goal position, with the clock running and no timeouts. QB Brian Hoyer dropped back for one last pass attempt, but instead of throwing the ball away (to stop the clock), he took a sack -- apparently thinking he had one more timeout. This boneheaded play cost the Patriots three easy points.

2. Early in the second half, the Patriots again in easy field goal position, Hoyer stepped up in the pocket to avoid a sack and then somehow forgot about the guy who just rushed past him -- as he let the guy get back into the play for a strip-sack. KC recovered the fumble and the Patriots missed out on three more points.

3. Jarrett Stidham replaced Hoyer, and his quick-out went right through Julian Edelman's hands and was picked by KC and returned for a touchdown.

By my count, without those mistakes, the Patriots could have outscored the Chiefs 22-19. No way to know how the game would have turned had the Patriots made a few of those plays. But without them, it was only going to end badly.

Just for fun, here are three pieces of good news from the game:

1. We are probably done with the Brian Hoyer "era" for now. He overthrew almost every pass in the first half, had the two big situational gaffes, and can't do jack with his legs to help the team. For now it'll be Stidham, who threw a crisper ball and is at least a threat to run.

2. The running game is still very good: 185 yards and 5.3 ypc.

3. The defense continues to play excellent situational football. They are taking the ball away like they did last year. And their third-down play has been outstanding.

Note: the defense might be the most interesting part of the team, even with the improved rushing attack and Cam Newton at the helm. They seem to be calling the game differently; playing zone between the 20s and man-to-man closer to either goal line.

It's almost as if Belichick concedes teams will get yards between the 20s but that he will either turn them over or make them kick field goals when they get close to the end zone. It worked to perfection for almost three quarters last night. And without all the mistakes, the Pats could have had a large lead by that point.

Where does that leave us? In unfamiliar territory: 2-2 and looking up a the Bills. With Denver in town next week, a bye after that, and the injury-plagued 49ers after that, they have time to right the ship. Then it's off to Buffalo for a showdown with the Bills.

Biggest concern: The health and recovery of Cam Newton. With him the Pats are a threat to go deep into the playoffs. Without him, 10-6 is the ceiling, and that might not even get them to the post-season.

Non-QB MVP: Damien Harris led the team with 100 yards and ripped off a 41-yarder in a drive that led to their only touchdown.

Statistical oddity: In four games against the Patriots, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes averaged just 8.75 points in the first halves but 21.25 points in the second halves.

Water-cooler wisdom: "Steve Belichick is the outside linebackers coach? But the Patriots don't *use* any outside linebackers!'

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 2-2!

PS. Trivia answer: the Miami Dolphins led the AFC East with a 7-3 record in week 7 of the 2002 season. The Patriots were two games behind at 5-5 -- and they ended up missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker to the Jets.


  1. I agree with everything except the JC Jackson play. That was no where near an easy pick. I maintain that the team played a great game. We only needed a QB.

  2. I agree with everything except the JC Jackson play. That was no where near an easy pick. I maintain that the team played a great game. We only needed a QB.

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