It was hard enough for the New England Patriots to battle a top AFC contender in the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14. But the referees didn't help either, which caused New England to face a frustrating 23-16 loss to the Chiefs.
In a game when New England had their worst 2nd quarter at Gillette Stadium in team history, being outscored 17-0 in that quarter, the team attempted to claw it's way back from a 20-7 deficit at halftime. While a blocked punt and a fumble recovery put the offense in great field position in the second half, trickery and competitive play on offense wasn't enough for New England because of inconsistent production to go along with poor officiating.
Between poor ball placement, a touchdown that was ruled short of the pylon, and a blown pass interference call, the officiating crew did not do the Patriots any favors with their lackluster decision making. Unfortunately, the Patriots could only challenge so many of their rulings because their red flags were used on some of the more obvious calls that weren't made earlier in the game. Those included a clear fumble by Kansas City's tight end Travis Kelce that was ruled not a fumble, and a pick play and 3rd down conversion by the Chiefs offense that should have been offensive pass interference and short of the 1st down markers.
But don't expect New England to point the blame at the officials for their second loss in as many weeks.
"It's the National Football League," Bill Belichick said after the game when asked how the team adjusts when emotions are flying high because of calls being or not being made during the game. "Just have to continue to compete, control what you can control."
However, aside from poor officiating, New England's offense didn't help themselves by only scoring seven points in the first half. The offense only mustered up 278 yards of total offense, went 2-for-12 on 3rd down, and couldn't keep Brady protected in the pocket, which forced three sacks given up, many throwaways, and had a 42-year-old QB constantly on the move. Brady finished the night completing 19-of-36 passes for 169 yards, with one touchdown and an interception.
"We moved (the ball). We had some plays there where we could have scored," Tom Brady said during his postgame press conference. "(We) didn't make the plays when we needed to make them."
So once again, while two phases of the game showed up for the Patriots, their offense couldn't give the support needed to come out with a win.
But while Week 15 will bring about a bunch of questions leading into what should be an easy an easy road win against the 1-12 Bengals, what supersede's New England's Week 14 loss will be a famous mantra that was brought to life five years ago.
After a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs back in 2014 early in that season, Belichick during his Wednesday press conference decided to answer every question about the Monday night loss with the phrase "We're on to Cincinnati" to explain that the team was moving on and focusing on their next opponent, which was the Bengals. New England then proceeded to pummel the then 3-0 Cincinnati team the following game by a score of 43-13, and eventually went on to win Super Bowl XLIX later that season.
It will be like a scene from Groundhog Day this week in Foxboro, as the Patriots have again lost to the Chiefs and will be facing the Bengals in their next game. So while there are so many reasons to lose sleep over the way New England received their third loss of the season, the attitude in the Patriots locker room will likely mirror the perspective they took back in 2014. Monday will be a fresh start, and their eyes will be set on their next opponent - the Bengals.