Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Patriots' red-zone defense key in thrilling win over Chiefs

Ryan Hannable
October 15, 2018 - 1:36 am

FOXBORO -- The Patriots allowed 40 points to the Chiefs, but were still able to come away with a 43-40 win in Sunday's thriller.

After shutting down the high-powered Kansas City offense in the first half, and leading 24-9, the defense allowed 31 second-half points. Those were the most allowed in the Bill Belichick era during the regular season -- the defense allowed 32 in the 2006 AFC championship game against the Colts.

Still, despite the number of points allowed, the team was able to come away with a win and a major reason for that was holding the Chiefs to scoring touchdowns on just 2-of-5 red-zone trips.

“We talk about the emphasis of red zone," safety Duron Harmon said. "It can really help us. A lot of offenses when they get into that red area they want to score seven and when you limit them to three, it’s not something they really want to do. I think we had three stops down there. You can take 12 points off the board from them, that is a win for us.”

The Patriots defense knew how good the Chiefs offense was going in, it just needed to take advantage of whatever it could to slow it down.

“For sure. Definitely. You just try and limit their scoring," Harmon said. "They are at times going to move the ball. They have excellent skill players. Great players on offense, so we know that our best bet is when they do move the ball, just play good sound defense in the red area and give ourselves a chance to limit them to three rather than give them seven.”

Harmon had a huge play in the red-zone when he intercepted a Patrick Mahomes pass in the end zone at the end of the first half.

"That was a big play for us," Bill Belichick said. "Dont'a [Hightower]'s pick, Duron's pick – those were big stops for us in the red area. Saved us at least six, but maybe 14 points. Those were huge plays. Yeah, I thought our red area defense really saved us there in the first half, saved us a lot of points."

The Chiefs entered the game scoring touchdowns on 76 percent of their red-zone trips, which speaks to just how good the Patriots red-zone defense was.

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