Posted on September 8, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Few people, if any, gave the Kansas City Chiefs a serious chance to take down the New England Patriots in Thursday night’s 2017 season opener. The Chiefs are considered one of the better teams in the NFL but a couple of steps below the mighty Patriots. To win, they needed to do a few things, keep it close and make a few big plays.
They ended up doing just that and what do you know, they took down the defending champions by a score of 42-27.
It started out well enough for the Patriots. They took the ball right down the field on the opening drive of the game for a touchdown (nine plays, 73-yards). Mike Gillislee did the honors by scoring from two yards out for what ended up being his first of three touchdowns on the night.
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When Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first carry on the Chiefs first possession, it looked like the writing was on the wall. It was going to be another good effort by the Chiefs, but they were going to make too many mistakes against a team that knows how to capitalize on them.
But they didn’t. New England failed to take advantage of the turnover. They turned the ball over on downs after Mike Gillislee failed to convert on fourth and one on the Chiefs ten-yard line. Kansas City responded with a 12-play, 90-yard touchdown drive.
New England took a 17-7 lead about midway through the second quarter on Gillislee’s second touchdown run. But before the end of the half, Kareem Hunt closed the gap to 17-14 when he capped off a 12-play, 92-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad half by either team. But neither team could look at it and say they played their best either. Whoever was going to win would need to step it up in the second half.
That is exactly what the Chiefs did.
First, it was Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard touchdown reception that gave the Chiefs a 21-17 lead. A couple of drives later, Kareem Hunt put the Chiefs back on top, 28-27, with a 78-yard touchdown reception. The nail in the coffin came late in the fourth quarter. Kareem Hunt broke loose for a 58-yard gain. His run was followed by a 21-yard touchdown run by Charcandrick West.
At that point, there were about four minutes left, and the Patriots were down by 15 with the score 42-27.
But we are talking about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick here; if anyone can figure out a way out of this mess, it is those two. Not this time.
“Bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad football,” a barely audible Belichick said (ESPN). “There were problems all over the place.”
New England ended up losing Donta Hightower to an injury in the second half and Danny Amendola. With Julian Edelman out for the season, that was one loss they could not afford. Brady ended up having a very un-Brady like performance completing just 16 of 36 attempts for 267 yards.
But the Chiefs defense deserves a ton of credit. They said during the week that they knew they needed to hit Brady and they did (six hits, three sacks).
The hero of the night became the guy who looked like he would be the goat, Kareem Hunt. Before his night was done, he joined some elite company with 150+ yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in his debut game. He finished the night with 246 total yards (146 rushing and 98 receiving) and three scores.
The only other players to do so—Billy Simms in 1980 and Marshal Faulk in 1994 (ESPN).
In a way, this is a blessing in disguise for Belichick and the Patriots. The spotlight is no longer on New England. There will be no more ’19-0’ talk. With his players knocked back down to Earth, Belichick can fix the problems. If anyone can, he’ll have the team ready to make another playoff run when it matters most.
Kansas City will try to keep the good times rolling next Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles come to town (1 PM ET kickoff). New England will face a tough test in Week Two when they travel to New Orleans to face the Saints(1 PM ET kickoff).