From Arrowhead Stadium
It was one game, one night in a schedule of 16 and placing too much emphasis on a single outcome can lead to quick and incorrect assumptions about any football team.
Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs. They lifted their record to 2-2 on the season with a 41-14 beat down of the New England Patriots Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium. This Chiefs team opened the season with an ugly 16-point loss at Arrowhead to the Tennessee Titans, a team that hasn’t won a game since.
The Chiefs team that took the field wearing all red uniforms dominated the now 2-2 Patriots. On offense, defense and special teams, Kansas City was able to control the game’s momentum. They did not play like a team that started as poorly as they did just a month ago on the very same field.
“We’ve gotten better each week,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who outdueled New England quarterback Tom Brady by throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Brady had one scoring throw and two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He was eventually pulled from the game.
After missing last week’s game in Miami with an ankle injury, running back Jamaal Charles was back and he was again the focal point of the Chiefs offense, scoring three touchdowns and producing 108 offensive yards.
“Coach Reid told us that nobody can be judged by their first game,” said Charles who ran for one score and caught a pair of touchdown passes. “All we knew was we had to get better and that’s what we’ve done. We still have a lot of work to do.”
It was the worst defeat suffered by the Patriots since September 7, 2003, when they lost the season opener at Buffalo 31-0. Since Bill Belichick took over the New England football operation, they have had very few games where they lost by 27 points.
“We got to play a lot better if we’re going to be a good team and win games,” said New England cornerback Devin McCourty. “This is the most embarrassing game I’ve ever been part of. We lost in every aspect.”
The Kansas City defense kept the New England offense under control allowing just 290 yards and the Patriots did not find the scoreboard until late in the third quarter when Brady connected with wide receiver Brandon LaFell for a 44-yard touchdown play.
Early in that same quarter the Chiefs picked up their first takeaways of the season, forcing a Brady fumble and then grabbing two interceptions, including a touchdown return of 39 yards by free safety Husain Abdullah. They converted those Patriots turnovers into 17 points.
“We couldn’t get started, turned the ball over in the third quarter,” said Brady. “We have to get ahead of these teams and play from ahead. You can’t get behind good teams on the road.”
Reid’s offense gained 443 yards and improvement has come from expanding the number of players getting a chance to make plays. Along with Charles, running back Knile Davis ran for 107 yards, while tight end Travis Kelce caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe grabbed five passes for 81 yards.
“We tried to spread it around as much as we could,” said Reid. “I think against that defense it’s important that you try to get as many different receivers into the mix and we were able to do that.”
The Chiefs dominated the first half limiting the Patriots to only 96 offensive yards. Brady threw for just 72 passing yards and New England managed 24 rushing yards. The Chiefs produced 303 yards in the first half and reached the scoreboard first with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter, as Charles finished off an 11-play, 73-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Smith was four of five in the drive, including a big 15-yard completion to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on a third-and-eight play at the New England 17-yard line. Charles made the end zone on the next play.
On their next chance with the ball, early in the second quarter, the Chiefs hit the Patriots with two big plays. Davis ran for 48 yards on the first snap. On the next play Smith connected with tight end Travis Kelce for 33 yards. Smith then threw five yards to Charles for the touchdown and after the PAT, a 14-0 lead.
They finished out the half with a 7-play, 85-yard drive and after some suspect clock management in the final minute, settled for a 22-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos for a 17-0 lead at intermission.
The domination continued in the third quarter, as the Chiefs forced their first takeaway of the season. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali earned the hat trick, sacking Brady, knocking the ball loose and then recovering the fumble at the New England nine-yard line. Two plays later, Charles was in the end zone again, on an eight-yard pass from Smith. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 24-0 lead with just under 23 minutes left in the second half.
They added another Santos field goal, a two-yard scoring pass from Smith to Kelce and Abdullah’s interception return for a touchdown.
After going 14 of 23 for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, Brady was pulled in the fourth quarter and rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw his first NFL touchdown pass, connecting on a 13-yard throw with tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“I’ve got to give credit to the Kansas City Chiefs,” said Gronkowski. “They were ready. They came hungry and outplayed us.”