Mistakes doom Patriots defence in loss to Chiefs
So much for another stab at 19-0.
Seven months after shutting down the Atlanta Falcons late in a dramatic Super Bowl comeback win, the New England Patriots defence couldn’t find the brakes Thursday night, giving up 28 second-half points in a stunning 42-27 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the most points allowed by New England under coach Bill Belichick, with Kansas City piling up 537 yards on offence.
The Patriots also lost starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower to a knee injury. The defence was already weaker up front following the retirement of veteran linebacker Rob Ninkovich and the departure of defensive end Chris Long in free agency, so Hightower’s absence could be an especially destabilizing blow.
Long strikes proved the biggest problem, including a 75-yard touchdown catch by Tyreek Hill to give Kansas City its first lead early in the third quarter, and a 78-yard touchdown catch by Kareem Hunt in the fourth quarter that put the Chiefs back in front for good.
The secondary blundered throughout. Cornerback Malcolm Butler’s pass interference in the end zone set up Hunt’s threeyard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Stephon Gilmore also badly blew a coverage on Hill’s long touchdown. And with Hightower sidelined, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Cassius Marsh allowed Hunt to get behind the defence on his 78-yard romp.
“It was different things on each one,” safety Devin McCourty said. “I gave up one where I could have definitely played better. But we gotta watch it and see.” New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower is escorted from the field after suffering an injury during the second half of Thursday’s game against Kansas City.
It was a particularly humbling debut for Gilmore, who signed a five-year, US$65 million contract as a free agent this off-season. The Patriots hoped he and Butler would make a formidable duo.
Instead, they both looked pedestrian Thursday, with both caught at times seeking help over the top that didn’t come.
“You gotta play with a hungry attitude, and I don’t think we did that as a team,” Gilmore said.
The Patriots offence looked as expected at times, scoring two early touchdowns and taking a 17-7 lead with quick-strike drives and Brady spreading the ball around the field.
Other times they were stagnant, including getting stopped twice on fourth-down runs.
But tight end Rob Gronkowski said the shortcomings were hardly just a defensive problem. He said everything about the loss was “a wakeup call.”
They were left with nothing to do but look forward to their Week 2 trip to New Orleans.
“When they score 42 points and beat you on opening night, there aren’t really any positives,” safety Duron Harmon said. Madison Keys (left) and Sloane Stephens will face each other in the first all-American U.S. Open women’s final since 2002.