Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Chiefs 42, Patriots 27: 10 quick observations from season opening loss

Ryan Hannable
September 08, 2017 - 12:18 am

FOXBORO — This was not the way the Patriots drew it up.

After leading 17-14 at the half, the Patriots fell to the Chiefs 42-27 at Gillette Stadium. It was the first regular season loss in Gillette Stadium history when the Patriots were leading at the half. It was also the most points the Patriots allowed in the Bill Belichick era.

Mike Gillislee and Tyreek Hill were the stars as they each had three touchdowns in the game, while Alex Smith threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Here are 10 quick observations from the game.

1. It was a bad night for Tom Brady. The quarterback finished 16-for-36 passing for 267 yards with no touchdowns. He had nowhere to throw most of the game and seemed frustrated at times with the lack of options in the receiving game. It was the first time since 2013 against the Jets where Brady finished below 50 percent passing in the regular season.

2. Kansas City’s defense did a tremendous job of taking away the Patriots’ playmakers, making it tough for them all game. Chris Hogan finished with one catch for eight yards and Rob Gronkowski finished with two catches for 33 yards. The Chiefs were very physical and frustrated the Patriots offense most of the night.

3. It was clear the Patriots made more of an effort to give James White carries when he’s in the backfield. White finished with 10 carries (a career-high), which comes after having just 33 all of last season. Teams were able to key on it being a passing play when he was in the game last season and it’s clear the Patriots want to change that this season. It’s also worth noting White has put a lot of time in working on being a ball carrier and has improved in this area.

4. The Patriots gameplan on defense called for heavy nickel and dime packages. This meant not a lot of playing time for David Harris, who specializes in stopping the run and isn’t as fast as some other players on defense. Jordan Richards got a ton of time playing as a linebacker, similar to what we’ve seen Patrick Chung do in the past. The Patriots love scheming for certain opponents so this type of defense isn’t expected to be an every game thing. Initial thoughts were not good for Richards at his new position.

5. The offensive line was the lone bright spot. They played well most of the game and did a good job of giving Brady time to throw on numerous plays. For all the questions about the positions a few weeks ago, it held up well.

6. Props to the Kansas City offense. Although it may not be the most exciting offense to watch, it moved the ball well against the Patriots. Rookie running Kareem Hunt is going to be a stud this year, as he looked very good in his first NFL start. The Chiefs also seemed to identify crossing patterns as a weakness for the Patriots defense, which worked a good amount as well. Also, credit Smith who had one of the better games of his NFL career.

7. One of the biggest issues for the Patriots defense was allowing big plays. This is a strength of a typical Patriots defense, but it wasn’t the case in the preseason and again on Thursday. Kansas City’s speed had a lot to do with it, but this is something that needs to be cleaned up before facing the Saints a week from Sunday. The game was the first time the Patriots allowed two touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game in theBelichick era.

8. Keep in mind this is just the first game. Both units are going to get better, but especially on defense. For the first time all summer the players were on the field at the same time, so naturally the communication will get better. It seemed some of the Patriots’ issues were communication related and that will get better as the year goes on. This was likely the case on Hill’s 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Players were lined up in different spots and with all the newcomers, it simply will take time so be patient. 

9. With all the key special teamers missing and facing one of the best units in the league, the Patriots faired pretty well. The newcomers acquired in the last week or so did their job. This was an underrated part of the game, considering how good the Kansas City special teams is.

10. Roger Goodell spent roughly 15 minutes on the field pregame and departed about 50 minutes before kickoff. He stayed at the stadium for the game in a suite. There were a number of Barstool Sports Goodell clown towels and t-shirts, filling roughly 30 percent of the stadium.

Prior to Thursday night, the Patriots were 81-0 in the history of Gillette Stadium when leading at the half in the regular season.