Pa­tri­ots face tough­est test

Ma­homes, un­de­feated Chiefs come to New Eng­land Sun­day

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By KYLE HIGHTOWER

FOXBORO — Watch­ing Pa­trick Ma­homes this sea­son has made Tom Brady feel like an old man.

At least old enough to re­mem­ber a much dif­fer­ent era for young NFL quar­ter­backs.

As a rookie in 2000, Brady re­mem­bers be­ing nowhere near see­ing the field as a starter.

“I was sit­ting in the stands, eat­ing na­chos be­fore games. I wasn’t play­ing,” he joked this week.

Now he looks around at a league in which Ma­homes is one of sev­eral young quar­ter­backs in their first or sec­ond year start­ing for teams. Brady also started his sec­ond sea­son, but it was hardly the plan as he re­placed an in­jured first stringer, Drew Bled­soe.

“Foot­ball was dif­fer­ent then,” Brady said. “I think now in some ways pro foot­ball is more glo­ri­fied col­lege foot­ball...the tran­si­tion is a more sim­i­lar game than it used to be when I first started.”

It’s an at­mos­phere that has al­lowed Ma­homes, who will be start­ing for Kansas City when the Chiefs (5-0) visit New Eng­land (3-2) on Sun­day night, to emerge as the most elec­tri­fy­ing quar­ter­back in the NFL this sea­son.

Ma­homes leads the NFL with 14 touch­down passes through Week 5 and has won each of his first six NFL starts, dat­ing back to his lone start last sea­son. With a win against the Pa­tri­ots, Ma­homes would be­come the sixth quar­ter­back since 1970 to win his first seven ca­reer starts.

It’s put the sec­ond-year Texas Tech prod­uct un­der the mi­cro­scope in his first year Kansas City’s full-time starter,

fol­low­ing the off­sea­son trade of Alex Smith to Washington.

While Ma­homes said run­ning the jet sweeps and run­pass op­tion plays he did in col­lege has helped with his tran­si­tion, he also spent a fair amount of time study­ing Brady’s ap­proach in New Eng­land.

“My coach in col­lege was Kliff Kings­bury, and he ac­tu­ally was a backup for Brady at one point, and so he showed me things that he liked with Tom and his pocket move­ments and stuff he did within the pocket that I’ve tried to put in my game a lit­tle bit,” he said.

While Chiefs coach Andy Reid won’t dis­par­age Smith, he ac­knowl­edges Ma­homes brings a lot of in­tan­gi­ble qual­i­ties to their of­fense. Reid also is cog­nizant that the sea­son is still young.

The 23-year-old is not a rookie, but he ba­si­cally is, Reid said.

“He’s go­ing through an NFL sea­son — his first one —

and there are all kind of chal­lenges that come with that, and no big­ger one than this week,” Reid said.

Here are some things to watch for in Sun­day night’s game:

NOT AN UN­DER­DOG

De­spite Kansas City’s un­blem­ished record, the Pa­tri­ots en­ter Sun­day’s game as a three-point fa­vorite. It’s for good rea­son. Since 2001, 41 times a team has vis­ited Foxbor­ough with a bet­ter record than the Pa­tri­ots. In those games New Eng­land is 30-11.

Since start­ing the sea­son 1-2, New Eng­land has outscored op­po­nents 76-31 over its last two vic­to­ries, at home vs. Mi­ami and In­di­anapo­lis.

MILE­STONE WATCH

Brady has an NFL-record 199 ca­reer reg­u­lar-sea­son vic­to­ries and can be­come the first quar­ter­back in league his­tory to reach 200 for his ca­reer. He en­ters this week tied with Colts kicker and for­mer team­mate Adam Vi­natieri for the most ca­reer wins in the reg­u­lar sea­son and play­offs com­bined

with 226.

BRING THE NASTY

The Chiefs’ ma­ligned de­fense forced Jack­sonville into five turnovers last week, not to men­tion showed a mean streak for the first time all sea­son. De­fen­sive tackle Chris Jones took it a bit too far, get­ting ejected for throw­ing an el­bow at a Jaguars line­man af­ter a play.

“I don’t even re­mem­ber what hap­pened,” Jones said with a wry smile. “But we’re not go­ing to let any­one push us around.”

IN­JURY WOES

The Chiefs signed exBrowns line­backer Nate Or­chard and jour­ney­man Frank Zombo to help with pass-rush­ing depth. Justin Hous­ton has a hurt ham­string, and fel­low pass rush­ers Dee Ford and Tanoh Kpas­sagnon have been banged-up, which left only rookie Bree­land Speaks avail­able.

“Tanoh will have a chance to play,” Reid said, “but we just have to make sure we are OK in that spot just in case.”

File photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­works.com

Cor­dar­relle Pat­ter­son (84) and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots host the un­de­feated Kansas City Chiefs to­mor­row night.

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