Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Patriots 43, Chiefs 40: 10 observations from thrilling win

Ryan Hannable
October 14, 2018 - 11:29 pm
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FOXBORO — Rarely do these games live up to their hype, but this one did.

After leading 24-9 at the half, the Patriots needed to come back to beat the Chiefs, 43-40, at Gillette Stadium Sunday night. It was Kansas City’s first loss of the season and the Patriots have now won three in a row to improve to 4-2 on the season.

Kansas City took the lead in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady used his legs to run it into the end zone from four yards out on third down with just over five minutes to play to retake the lead. But, following a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with 3:15 to go, Tyreek Hill had a 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run to tie the game at 40 with 3:03 left.

New England then easily went down the field to set up Gostkowski, who kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.

Here are 10 quick observations from the game.

1. Bill Belichick and Co. continued their success against young quarterbacks, as now QBs 25 or younger are 1-42 all-time in regular-season games at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots took a more aggressive approach against Patrick Mahomes than expected, as they weren’t afraid to rush extra players to force him into quick decisions. The thought was he could beat them with his legs, but the defense did an outstanding job taking that away.

2. The story of the game was the Patriots defense's ability to hold strong in the red zone. Kansas City finished the game 2-for-5 in the red zone. These were also huge momentum swings, none bigger than Duron Harmon’s interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. As always, it’s very hard to beat the Patriots with field goals. Andy Reid also made some questionable decisions when it came to game management.

3. As expected, the Patriots were able to run the ball with ease against the Kansas City defense. It came in allowing the most yards per carry in the league and Sony Michel took full advantage finishing with 24 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He has scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games, the longest streak by a Patriots rookie since Benjarvus Green-Ellis in 2008.

4. Brady had an average night going 24-for-35 with 340 yards and a touchdown. The wide receivers were much more involved than any other game this season, and that is due in large part to having Julian Edelman active for the second game this year and Josh Gordon getting more acclimated to the offense. The offensive line did a solid job, giving Brady a good amount of time to throw. He made some questionable decisions, but he came through when he was needed the most when the Patriots fell behind in the fourth quarter.

5. As for Gordon, this was by far his most involved game with the team. He played more snaps in the first quarter (20) than in any of his previous two games this season with the Patriots (he had 18 snaps in each). The receiver finished with five catches for 42 yards. After not clicking with Brady on the opening drive, it didn’t deter him from throwing his way as he finished with a team-high nine targets.

6. The Patriots did a good job in the first half with taking away Kansas City's play-makers, but struggled in the second half. The big issue were the big plays, none bigger than Hill's 75-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. That just cannot happen, especially against a team like Kansas City.

7. Kansas City took Rob Gronkowski out of the game for the most part, as the tight end finished with only three catches for 97 yards. The Chiefs were very physical with him at the line of scrimmage, sometimes using two players to make contact with him off the ball. Despite this, Gronkowski made two huge catches late in the fourth quarter.

8. Going into the game, the Patriots really struggled on third-and-short (third-and-3 or less), as opponents were 14-for-14 on the year. It got up to 16-for-16 before the Patriots finally were able to come up with a stop, although it took a challenge to do so. It isn't just one thing causing the issue, either. Poor tackling and coverages all have played a role.

9. Offensively, the Patriots continue to have troubles with short-yardage running situations, including in the red zone. If there is a knock on Michel, it is this. Yes, the offensive line is involved in this too, but it feels like Michel has a lot of room to grow in this regard.

10. The Patriots’ special teams units haven’t been as strong as in years past, especially the kickoff unit. Kansas City’s special teams are among the best in football, but it has been a year-long trend. The 93-yard return in the fourth quarter was a perfect example. This is something the team will need to correct moving forward as opponents starting position can lead to success on defense.

The Patriots now have gone six straight games recording an interception. It is the first time they've done that since 2013.

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