By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The New England Patriots let an improbably winnable game slip through their fingers against the Kansas City Chiefs, falling to Patrick Mahomes & Co. by a 26-10 final at Arrowhead Stadium.
In Kansas City without starting quarterback Cam Newton, and on a same-day travel that saw them bring 93 to a standstill to ensure their on-time delivery to Missouri, the Patriots began their night with holding the Chiefs to just a field goal on their first two possessions.
The encouraging start came with its own share of miscues, however, with none greater than Devin McCourty just outright dropping what was an easy interception.
Nevertheless, the Patriots found themselves within striking distance throughout the first half, and trailing 6-3 but in the redzone in the final minute of the second quarter, the Patriots were set to enter halftime with at least six points to their name.
The only thing the Patriots, who were without a timeout, had to do on third down was not take a sack or commit a turnover. The former would’ve let the clock run down to zero without points on the board, and the latter would’ve lost possession without points on the board.
This is why Brian Hoyer, making his first start in a Patriots uniform, was playing over second-year pro Jarrett Stidham.
But feeling the pressure from the Chiefs’ Frank Clark, Hoyer was unable to escape trouble without taking the sack that bled the clock down to zero, but not before Hoyer attempted to call a timeout he didn’t have. It was one of the two things he couldn’t do.
With the ball back in their hands to begin the second, Hoyer then did the other, this time taking a strip sack in the redzone.
In the blink of an eye, Hoyer and the Patriots left six points on the board — and with their defense holding the league’s most dangerous offense in check with a damn near perfect gameplan — in enemy territory.
It was enough to spell the end of Hoyer’s night, with 130 passing yards, 15 completions, and an interception in 24 throws. And with the Chiefs putting a touchdown on the board on their next drive, it spelled the end for New England’s hopes of a victory in Kansas City.
Stidham came in and hooked up with N’Keal Harry for the first touchdown pass of his career, but that was spoiled by back-to-back interceptions with the Patriots down in the fourth quarter. The first came on a bobbled ball from Julian Edelman, and the second by way of a deep ball that came up just short in the endzone.
In what was the first meaningful action of his NFL career, Stidham finished a touchdown and two picks, and with 60 yards on 5-for-13 passing.
But the mistakes and miscues extended beyond McCourty’s drop and Hoyer’s non-veteran performance.
The Patriots appeared to strip Mahomes of the ball in the second quarter. It was either a fumble or an interception, at least to the naked eye, but the referees blew the play dead and determined Mahomes was in grasp. It was a bad break, but the Patriots failed to make any for themselves, and committed some drive-extending penalties later in the night, with Deatrich Wise’s slight shove of Mahomes leading to an unnecessary roughness penalty and Kyle Dugger giving Travis Kelce enough a bump for Kelce to goad the officials into a pass interference penalty that benefitted the Chiefs.
There was also another brutal interception drop, this time by J.C. Jackson, on a second-half Chiefs possession.
It, again, spoiled what was a largely spectacular effort by the New England defense, which held Mahomes to 236 passing yards, and the K.C. offense to just 323 total yards as a team. The Chiefs didn’t even get on the board with a touchdown until there was just 42 seconds remaining the third quarter. Harder to play it much better than the New England did in this one.
If you’re looking for positives in this, second-year running back Damien Harris made his 2020 debut in the losing effort, and finished with 100 yards on 17 carries.
With the loss, the Patriots fell to 2-2 on the year, and are two games behind the 4-0 Buffalo Bills for first in the AFC East.
The Patriots, and hopefully Cam Newton, will return home for a Week 5 date with the Denver Broncos.