It doesn’t happen very often, but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was stumped.
He spent Sunday morning poring through video from Chiefs games but couldn’t come up with many answers on how to beat Kansas City in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game.
After all, no one else found a solution either during the Chiefs’ 11-game winning streak.
“The fact they haven’t lost in so long, it’s not like you can go to a game and say, ‘Here’s how this team has defeated them,’ ” Belichick said during a teleconference on Sunday afternoon. “That just doesn’t exist.
“So we’ve got to figure out a way, and there’s not a great example on film. There are different things we can point to and different ideas or concepts of a certain part of the game that went well for one of Kansas City’s opponents. But overall, there’s nothing really to say, ‘This team found a way to do it.’ ”
The Chiefs showed little if no weaknesses in their 30-0 wild-card win Saturday at Houston that set up the trip to defending Super Bowl champion New England, 12-4. It will be the first postseason meeting in the 56-year history of two original AFL franchises.
“They pretty much dominated that game from the opening kickoff all the way through the fourth quarter,” Belichick said of the Chiefs’ triumph over Houston, their first postseason win in 22 years. “It was a typical Kansas City game the last three-quarters of the season: A lot of turnovers on defense (one) turnover on offense. They capitalize on opponents’ mistakes and don’t make many.”
The last time Kansas City and New England played, the Chiefs prevailed 41-14 on Sept. 29, 2014, in a Monday night game that the Patriots later pointed to as a turning point in their march to a fourth Super Bowl championship.
“We’ll definitely look at that game,” Belichick said. “I’m sure that there are things from that game that they may try do or that they may feel like they can still do or want to do that they did in that game. We’ll definitely have to take that into consideration.
“But there has been whatever … 25 games played since then, and it’s definitely a game to look at, but there are a couple of thousand plays on either side of the ball. There are some things somewhat outdated just based on the players and personnel, the situation and that kind of thing. So, it has relevance, but we’re certainly going to have to prepare and coach the team a lot better than we did that night.”
This year, the Chiefs’ and Patriots’ seasons were reverse images of each other. Just as the Chiefs closed the regular season with 10 consecutive wins, New England opened the season with 10 straight wins before stumbling to four losses in their last six games, including the final two.
Quarterback Tom Brady left the season-ending loss at Miami late in the fourth quarter after he was hit in the lower leg by Ndamukong Suh. But Brady said after two walk-through practices during the playoff bye week that he felt a lot better.
Brady also spent extra time working with wide receiver Julian Edelman, who has not played since breaking a bone in his left foot on Nov. 15.
Injuries certainly contributed to the Patriots’ slide since Thanksgiving. They have played 12 different offensive linemen, and New England brought Steven Jackson, 32, out of retirement because of injuries to the running back corps.
In their last two games, New England managed just 63 yards rushing in 22 attempts, with a long of 13 yards in a 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets and 70 yards rushing in 27 attempts in a 20-10 loss at Miami.
“Miami has a very good defensive front, kind of like the previous week the Jets,” Belichick said. “There were times where we punched out some solid plays, and there were other times where we didn’t, but we weren’t very consistent in any phase of the game.
“Right now we have one game that we have to win — the next game … You can analyze any of the other games any way you want or any part of them, or however you want to slice up the season, but none of it really matters. The only thing that’s going to matter is what happens … Saturday.”