Red Zone

Chiefs notebook: There were two key turning points in AFC playoff loss

New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower recovered a fumble by Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis in the third quarter.
New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower recovered a fumble by Kansas City Chiefs running back Knile Davis in the third quarter. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Turning points can be obvious. In the Patriots’ 27-20 victory over the Chiefs in the AFC Divisional playoff game on Saturday, a fumble by running back Knile Davis ended a promising Kansas City possession to open the second half.

The Patriots took the gift and turned it into a touchdown drive and a 21-6 lead.

Another wasn’t a single mistake, but a collective failure.

Early in the second quarter, a Frankie Hammond Jr., 19-yard punt return gave the Chiefs, who were trailing 7-3, superb field position at the Patriots 36.

But three plays lost 1 yard and the Chiefs punted it right back. Buoyed by their defense, the Patriots went on a 98-yard touchdown drive.

“We didn’t do anything with that field position,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “You’ve got to be able to take advantage of that when it comes. You don’t know when you’re going to get that kind of field position, right on the fringe of field-goal range.

“Yeah, looking back, certainly a missed opportunity there.”

Will Berry be back with Chiefs?

Safety Eric Berry, playing in the final year of his contract, was asked if he’d like to return to the Chiefs.

“Obviously,” Berry said. “This is family. At the same time we will sit down and talk about it when we talk about it, but right now I’m just thankful for my teammates, my coaches and everybody that has something to do with me going back on the field this year.”

Berry figures to be leading contender for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, returning this season after conquering his battle with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Fleming takes vicious hit

The Chiefs’ Jamell Fleming took a shot from the Patriots punt-coverage man Danny Amendola that seemed close to a helmet-to-helmet blow. Fleming looked to down a punt near the goal line when Amendola blocked him off the ball.

“Dustin Colquitt is one of the best, especially at 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.”

Outside linebacker Dezman Moses and fullback Anthony Sherman quickly got in Amendola’s face until order was restored.

“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.”

Gronk wins the tight end battle

One of the game’s story lines was the matchup of tight ends: Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce.

With two touchdowns among his seven receptions for 83 yards, Gronk won the statistical battle. Kelce finished with six receptions for 23 yards.

The Patriots succeeded in taking away Kelce.

“They threw a lot at us, switched it up a bit,” Kelce said. “There was some bracketing, some double-coverage, some stuff at the beginning of the play where you just jam the guy at the line.”

Coin toss question

There was almost a little drama during the coin toss, when the Chiefs — as the visiting team — called tails. The coin landed tails, but the official said New England won the toss. He quickly corrected the error, however, and the Chiefs opted to defer.

The Star’s Terez A. Paylor contributed to this report

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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