Patriots Defensive Report Card: Week 14
The New England Patriots lost their second straight game and fell to 10-3 after a 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday night. The story remains the same: the defense continues to put the Patriots in position to win games; however, the offense is struggling to put points up on the scoreboard. Although this specific game included some horrific calls made by the referees, the loss is still more in the hands of the offense than the defense.
Let's grade the Patriots' most notable defensive performers from Sunday night.
Devin McCourty: A-
Devin McCourty finished with nine total tackles, including one for a loss. Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes is one of the best in the league, but he was held in check for most of the game. McCourty only allowed 23 yards on the four passes that were thrown his way, and he also forced a fumble. Splitting the duty of covering Kansas City's star tight-end, Travis Kelce with Patrick Chung, Kelce was guarded pretty well throughout the game, as he was help to a respectable 66 yards.
Stephon Gilmore: A-
Stephon Gilmore put together another lockdown performance on Sunday night, as he was given the right to cover Sammy Watkins, who finished with four catches on eight targets for 50 yards. Gilmore has been a stud all season long, and without his ability to shutdown the opposing team's star wide receiver every week, who knows where the Patriots may stand. Gilmore's ability to cover star receivers gives Bill Belichick an incredible advantage, as week in and week out, he can say to the team, "Make someone else beat us."
Kyle Van Noy: B
Kyle Van Noy put together a pretty solid game against the Chiefs, finishing with five tackles and three quarterback hurries. Van Noy played a key role in holding the Kansas City rushing attack to only 75 yards on 29 carries, a 2.6 yards per rush average. Aside from the one rushing touchdown on a funky carry from Kelce, Van Noy and the other New England linebackers put together a respectable performance.
Nate Ebner: A
Nate Ebner deserves some love in this week's defensive report card in large-part for his blocked punt in the third quarter. Ebners blocked punt gave the Patriots great starting field position, as they began their drive on the Kansas City 19 yard line. New England then took just two plays to score a touchdown, as Brandon Bolden eventually took a 10 yard sweep to the house. This blocked punt gave the Patriots a much needed momentum swing and later gave New England the opportunity to tie or win the game late.