For three quarters, the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs were evenly matched. It actually looked like the Patriots might be in a position to pull away, even after giving up a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill. But with roughly 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Danny Amendola left the game because of the concussion protocol and the Patriots offense stalled.
Sure, Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on a 54-yard pass to open up the next drive, but then Brady and the offense looked to James White for the next five straight plays, with one none-yard gain called back because Brady had crossed the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball. The Patriots gained just four yards after that Cooks reception before kicking a field goal.
The Patriots took a 27-21 lead, that could have (should have) been a 31-21 lead, but the Chiefs responded with a 78-yard touchdown to Kareem Hunt, giving Kansas City a 28-27 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.
This was still a close game, but the Patriots failed to generate any offense without Amendola and started to lose the field position game. The Chiefs started their next two drives on their own 40-yard line. The team failed to convert on a drive with a 2nd-and-2 situation. On Brady’s final nine passing plays, he went 0-6 with three sacks with four of those targets 15+ yards down the field and a fifth simply thrown at the feet of James White.
Keep in mind that the Patriots and Chiefs were still within one score of each other until there were 4 minutes left in the game and there was no need for such desperation. The Patriots simply panicked on offense once Amendola left the game because he was the only player that had been creating any separation for New England.
And to credit the Chiefs defense, they knew that the Patriots didn’t have a short game with Amendola in the locker room and they started to crank up the pressure on Brady. Brady finished the week with the most time in the pocket before throwing the football in the entire league, and Kansas City closed out the game by sacking Brady multiple times before his receivers made it five yards down the field.
The Patriots need to find a receiver to step up into the slot if Amendola misses any time with his head injury because the game was close so long as he was contributing. Chris Hogan seems to be the team’s top choice to play in the slot next week against the Saints, but his lackluster performance against the Chiefs left much to be desired.
New England might only need a temporary band-aid with Amendola likely to not miss much time. The Saints also lack the same defensive playmakers as the Chiefs, so Hogan might be able to create more separation. But’s clear more than ever that the Patriots need to think about finding the heir to the Troy Brown/Wes Welker/Julian Edelman role moving forward since Amendola can’t shoulder the load for a full season. Having talented boundary receivers simply isn’t enough to sustain the offense.