Instant Observations Following Patriots' 23-16 Loss to Chiefs
Another disappointing loss for the New England Patriots, this one coming at the hand of the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 23-16. It is now hard to see the Patriots securing home-field advantage and at this point, the division could even be at stake.
The team was booed off the field at halftime and put together another comeback effort that would fall short for the second week in a row. Last week, Bolden failed to secure the onside kick. This week, it came down to Edelman in the endzone. Both times all the hope left your body as a Patriots fan.
Let's review some of the observations made during the Patriots' second loss in as many games.
A putrid performance by the offensive line
New England's offensive line gave Tom Brady no time to go through his progressions. He was constantly under pressure or shuffling through the pocket.
Nothing was able to develop for Brady. His receivers could not get open in the little time he had to stand in the pocket and throw. The Chiefs did a great job of bringing pressure and covering Edelman, which made Brady fold like a two dollar watch.
Once his main target was taken away, Brady had little time to find Mohamed Sanu or Jakobi Meyers. Both simply could not get open quick enough, which resulted in one of the worst performance of the season for the 42-year-old quarterback.
Referees did not help
The referees were just atrocious in Sunday's game. They missed calls left and right. They then ruled a fumble dead that could have been returned for a touchdown by Stephon Gilmore and then on the ensuing drive said N'Keal Harry was out of bounds, when he clearly got into the endzone for a score. The Patriots would not score a touchdown on that drive in result. They would have to settle for a field goal.
Later, down the stretch, they missed a facemask on Julian Edelman and missed neutral zone infraction penalties on back to back plays as well. While the refs were not perfect for the Chiefs either, there is no denying that they impacted the Patriots' ability to comeback in this game.
If the refs give the Patriots the Harry touchdown, all New England needed on the final drive was a field goal, which they were in range for at the end.
Defense takes a bold strategy in the first half, but figure things out in the second
The first half strategy for the defense was extremely unorthodox. Instead of playing man coverage, like anticipated, the Patriots showed a lot of Tampa 2 and other zone looks against a quarterback who makes a living against those coverages.
In "How Patriots Defense Should Attack Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Offense", we talked about how Mahomes excels in zone coverage scenarios. He knows exactly where the weak spots in each zone package are and has players that do a great job with that as well. The Chiefs let the linebackers sit back and then attacked the flat, getting runningbacks and Travis Kelce the ball in space. These plays picked up virtually nine yards every time.
Not playing man coverage against Mahomes when it has worked so well the last two times they faced him was puzzling. However, after allowing 20 points in the first half and a Mahomes passing touchdown, the defense held the Chiefs to a field goal in the second. The three point second half kept the Patriots in the game and gave them a chance to come back. Unfortunately, other facets of the game prevented a comeback from happening.
White continues to keep Patriots in ball games
Last week, James White had a great performance in the same stadium he won his Super Bowl MVP trophy in. He racked up eight catches for 98 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also had 14 carries for 89 rushing yards.
Today, he had several catches and ran down the stretch to move the chains. He even completed a pass to Meyers in the 4th quarter. He had six rushes for 33 yards and five receptions for 27 yards. The pass was especially big as it went for 35 yards.
The stats were not as glamorous as they were last week but the do not say the impact they made in key situations. After two really good games from White, he is building a case for a struggling Patriots offense to run through him. They should feed James White as much as possible going forward.
Offense has another strong second half
Another strong second half performance by Brady and the offense. Two straight games they have come alive too late to comeback and win the game.
It is now time for McDaniels to buckle up in the film room and try and build off what they are doing right in these second halves of football.
It seems like it is only a matter of time until New England put it together and finally play two halves of good offense. That could very well come against a very bad Bengals' defense in Week 15. They will need a good week of film and some adjustments on the offensive line to fire on all cylinders against Cincinnati. We will see if they can build off this loss for next Sunday's game