The key plays, stats and grades from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-27 win over the New England Patriots on Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
Player of the game: Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was outstanding, completing 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on a pair of 70-yard passes, which has been a major knock against him in his career.
Reason to hope: The Chiefs showed a tremendous amount of mental toughness early, when they mounted a red-zone stand after a Kareem Hunt fumble and came right back to tie the score at 7-7. That gave the entire team some much-needed momentum and snuffed out whatever “blowout” vibes some may have started to feel. The Chiefs went on to hand the Patriots only their second loss at home to an AFC opponent since 2007. Wow.
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Reason to mope: There were way, way, way too many penalties on the Chiefs — 13 for 124 yards by the fourth quarter, compared to only five for the Patriots. The Chiefs ended up with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Being that undisciplined in Foxborough is hardly ideal. Also, safety Eric Berry left was carted off with an Achilles’ injury — never good.
Looking ahead: The Chiefs will have an extended weekend to review the film and get back to work early next week. On Sept. 17, they play host to the Philadelphia Eagles and former Andy Reid protege Doug Pederson for a noon tilt at Arrowhead Stadium.
Rushing offense: The Patriots surrendered 88.6 yards per game on the ground last year, which ranked third in the league. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first career carry, which obviously wasn’t ideal. But overall, he showed power and burst, and later scored his first two career NFL touchdowns as he racked up 148 yards in 17 carries. Big night for Hunt and the Chiefs’ offensive line.
Passing offense: The Patriots ranked 12th in pass defense last year, surrendering 237.9 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Alex Smith had an efficient first half, completing 16 of 19 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. There weren’t many explosive plays, but there were plenty of solid gains in the short-to-intermediate range. Smith also uncorked a great deep throw to receiver Tyreek Hill in the third quarter for an eye-popping 75-yard touchdown, and another to Hunt for a 78-yard touchdown. The Chiefs racked up 368 passing yards, and Smith was awesome. Hunt was also devastating in the passing game, catching five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Rushing defense: The Patriots ranked seventh in rushing offense last year, with an average of 117 yards per game. The Chiefs held Mike Gillislee and James White to 83 yards in 25 carries, though they did score three touchdowns.
Passing defense: The Patriots ranked fourth in passing defense last year, yielding an average of 269.3 yards per game. They fared about as well as can be expected against Tom Brady in the first half, limiting him to a 9-of-17 performance for 131 yards and zero touchdowns. Cornerback Terrance Mitchell had his struggles, being whistled for three defensive penalties in the first 37 minutes of the game. All of them came on drives that led to points. The defensive backs also surrendered a long completion to speedy receiver Brandon Cooks that led to points. But Brady only completed 16 of 36 passes for 267 yards in the game. Not bad at all.
Special teams: De’Anthony Thomas had two nice kick returns in the first half for an average of 30 yards, but an ill-fated decision on one in the second half cost the Chiefs field position. Punter Dustin Colquitt dropped a pair of punts inside the 20 in the first half. The Chiefs’ kick-coverage unit did a nice job against the Patriots’ returners. But there weren’t a ton of standout plays either way, at least to the naked eye.
Coaching: Chiefs coach Andy Reid opened up the offensive playbook in the first half, using multiple personnel groupings and some new wrinkles to score 14 points before the break. And after a rough start to the game, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s unit largely steadied. Winning in New England is a tall task — especially with the number of penalties they had — but the Chiefs were in this one all the way after a shaky start, and pulled off a massive win that put the entire league on notice.