Yeah, that 19-0 talk was premature.
But this was an opening night shocker. Not only did the Chiefs beat the Patriots 42-27, the Chiefs looked like the better team most of the night. When Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West easily sliced through the Patriots’ defense for big runs late in the game, with West’s touchdown giving the Chiefs a 42-27 lead with four minutes left, the Patriots looked very vulnerable.
It doesn’t mean the dynasty is over. It doesn’t mean the Patriots are falling off a cliff. Nobody bother asking a Jimmy Garoppolo question this week. But it’s also very clear the Patriots aren’t as invincible this season as it looked like they would be.
The 2017 NFL season wasn’t even four hours old and all of a sudden the race for Super Bowl LII looked much more wide open than was anticipated most of the offseason.
The Patriots seemed like a lock to win a few times during Thursday night’s game, simply because of their history. When the Patriots held a 10-point lead at home since 2001, they were 102-1 including playoffs. They were 105-2 when leading at any point in the fourth quarter at home since 2001. Not only were the Patriots considered the best team in the NFL coming in, they were virtually unbeatable at home when they led like they did Thursday night.
And somehow, the Chiefs gained 537 yards, scored six touchdowns and convincingly beat New England.
The Patriots took on injuries. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower left with a knee injury, which was a bad blow to New England’s front seven. Receiver Danny Amendola was checked out for a concussion, which left the Patriots with three healthy receivers including Phillip Dorsett, who was just acquired in a trade. Receivers Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell are both on injured reserve.
The Chiefs just kept pulling away. Hunt, after a really unexpected fumble to start the game, dominated. He had 246 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. That’s the most yards for a player making his debut in NFL history, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Tyreek Hill had a long touchdown in the second half that turned the momentum of the game. Alex Smith thoroughly outplayed Tom Brady, and nobody saw that coming. Smith completed 28-of-35 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns. This wasn’t Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees lighting up the Patriots’ defense, this was the much-maligned Smith completing just about everything including a few huge passes downfield.
New England’s offense had a few nice moments early on but really bogged down in the second half. They have a ton of weapons at their disposal, but none really showed up after halftime. The defense simply got gashed. The NBC broadcast said it was the most yardage a Belichick-coached team has ever allowed and it was tied for the most points a Belichick team has ever given up.
This wasn’t just a random upset loss to a good Chiefs team. The Patriots were demolished on their home field. That never happens.
The last time the Patriots looked this bad, it was against the Chiefs in 2014. It looked like the Patriots might be on a decline. They won the Super Bowl that season. So there won’t be any panic internally. They’ll be on to New Orleans. But there are a lot more questions about them now.
– – – – – – –
Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org