Mis­takes doom Pa­tri­ots de­fence in loss to Chiefs

Truro Daily News - - SPORTS -

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.

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