Hannable: Patriots’ win over Chiefs was most thrilling of season, but you never would have known afterwards

Ryan Hannable
October 15, 2018 - 3:40 am

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

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FOXBORO — It was an instant classic.

After leading 24-9 at the half, the Chiefs mounted a tremendous second half comeback to actually take a 33-30 lead with 8:38 to play. But, then came 20 more points before it was over.

Tom Brady had a four-yard touchdown run to take the lead, a 50-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to extend the lead to seven, a 75-yard Tyreek Hill catch-and-run to tie it, and finally, a 28-yard Gostkowski field goal at the horn to complete a 43-40 win. 

All this to knock off a previously undefeated team at home on Sunday Night Football. 

One would expect a locker room full of jubilation and celebration following such a win, which was their third straight after a 1-2 start, but not with the Patriots.

“We just have to find a way to be consistent. We talked about this team, they live off the big plays and what was able to get them back into the game was them hitting on big plays. We can’t play like that. We have a lot of work to do.” -Duron Harmon

“I would say it is bittersweet. Bitter because obviously as a defense you don’t want to give up 40 points. You don’t want to give up as many big plays as we did.” - Harmon

“We know defensively we will be back in here tomorrow focusing on a lot of things we need to work on, the main thing being big plays.” -Devin McCourty

“I don’t know what happened. We got to look at that on film. It was bad. I think we’re a lot better than what we’ve played out there, so we better figure it out quick. I think we have to be better fundamentally; we got to get out of the box and use our hands better. We have to play together and trust it. The guy next to us is going to be where he’s supposed to be and we have to improve.” - Matthew Slater

“You know, I still think we missed some opportunities out there.” - Tom Brady

While it was nice to come away with a win against a good team, there were plenty of reasons to come away not feeling so great.

For as good as the first half was for the Patriots defense, the second half was equally as bad. 

The unit allowed 31 points, which were the most ever in the Bill Belichick era in the regular season (the unit allowed 32 against the Colts in the 2006 AFC title game). Also, all week not giving up big plays was hammered into the players' heads, but yet the defense allowed six plays of 20 yards or more, including plays of 75 and 67 yards in the second half.

Special teams, the kickoff unit in particular, wasn’t good either. 

There was the poorly executed and strange squib kick in the first half and then a 97-yard return by Tremon Smith in the fourth quarter, which set up the Chiefs’ touchdown that gave them the lead at the time. There was poor coverage, obviously, but also a question of why even kick it to Smith in the first place and not out of the end zone, like the team did with the following kickoffs.

Lastly, yes, Brady and the Patriots offense put up 43 points and the quarterback threw for 340 yards, but until the middle of the fourth quarter, he didn’t have the greatest of games. His biggest mistake came in the third quarter when on third down he was careless with the ball in the pocket and fumbled. On a play where it seemed he had the ball for close to 10 seconds, he couldn't find an open receiver and then just didn't throw it away -- very Drew Bledsoe-esque.

So, while the Patriots came away with their biggest win of the season, it certainly didn’t feel that way in the locker room afterwards, which speaks to just how high the expectations are with the organization.

“I am just glad we are winning,” Harmon said. “That is what this sport is about — winning, finding ways to win. The last three weeks we were able to do that. Each week has been different. 

“Obviously we played better on defense the last two weeks, but when it comes to this game winning is the key and we get to have a little victory celebration — a small celebration tonight.”

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