New England receiver Danny Amendola said he was trying to make a play for field position.
For many watching Saturday’s AFC Divisional playoff game, it appeared Amendola may have been trying to remove the upper torso of the Chiefs’ Jamell Fleming in the process.
Fleming was trying to down Dustin Colquitt’s pooch punt near the goal line in the second quarter when Amendola blocked him off the ball.
Amendola’s vicious hit resulted in an unnecessary-roughness penalty against New England and set off a brief flurry of pushing and shoving in the end zone.
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“Dustin Colquitt is one of the best, especially on the pooch play,” Fleming said. “All I have to do is go find the ball. Of course, they know that, too. That’s why he did what he did.”
Linebacker Dezman Moses and fullback Anthony Sherman quickly got in Amendola’s face. After players from both teams were separated, the Patriots were left with first and 10 from their 2. New England ended that possession with a score and a 14-3 lead 11:37 later.
“Everybody knows — their fans knew it was a cheap shot,” Fleming said. “That was horrible, and we all knew that. I’m just mad that we lost the game, I’m not really worried about the hit or anything like that.”
Amendola’s response to the play:
“If I block that guy (Fleming), the ball bats into the end zone and we get the ball on the 20, as opposed to the 4,” he said. “It’s a big change in field position. That’s it.”
That was the only significant penalty called on New England, even though the Patriots lost only 72 inches of field position after the hit since it was inside the 5.
The Patriots were effusive in their praise of the Chiefs. Among the tenants of the “Patriot Way” in these parts is a strict limit on trash-talking opponents outside Indianapolis, New York or Baltimore.
After all, the Chiefs smashed the Patriots 41-14 in 2014 and had won 11 straight games before Saturday.
“Every team in the playoffs is really good. They have a good defense and play really hard,” said Amendola, who caught two passes for 18 yards.
The Patriots never trailed, but the Chiefs were never more than two scores down. The Chiefs converted 12 of 20 third-down opportunities. There was only one turnover in the game, Knile Davis’ fumble in the third quarter that resulted in a Patriots touchdown.
New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the game-clinching Super Bowl XLIX interception, said the tenacity and mobility of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith were surprising up close. This even after watching Smith on film this last week in practice.
Smith threw the ball 50 times Saturday and gained 44 yards rushing in nine carries.
“We tried to contain him,” Butler said. “He’s a great athlete. I didn’t know he could run like that, honestly. The guy can move. We tried to limit him as much as we could.”
Last year’s game at Arrowhead, meanwhile, was “last year” as far as Butler was concerned.
“Last year was last year,” Butler said. “Ain’t no revenge. It’s just playoff time. Win or go home.”
Bill Speros, @RealOBF