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Patriots-Chiefs Gamechangers: A look at one of the plays that decided week 1

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The Patriots struggled to run in short yardage situations.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

12:36 left in the 4th, down 28-27, 4th and 1 with the ball between the Chiefs 39 and 40. The Patriots had reclaimed the lead following a 75 yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill, only to lose it again on a 78 yard Kareem Hunt touchdown. New England was driving, starting to regain momentum and were less than 10 yards out of field goal range to take the lead back again. On 4th and 1, the Patriots correctly decided to go for it instead of punting or attempting the long field goal.

This was the second fourth down attempt of the game for New England, after a 4th and 1 dive up the middle was stopped on the second offensive drive of the game. The Chiefs had set themselves up to take away any up-the-middle run plays (including a Brady sneak), and the Patriots appropriately shied away from attempting a QB sneak. It made little sense, however, to shy away from the sneak only to hand it off to Mike Gillislee and attempt to run through the same area.

Now they line up, and the Chiefs are set up to again take away the middle. The Patriots line up again, this time with a fullback in the formation instead of a WR. Surely they wouldn’t attempt another dive up the middle, would they?

Sure would. Same result. Stuffed, slight loss of yardage, turnover on downs. After trading a couple punts, the Chiefs scored another touchdown to put away the game. There’s a number of issues with this play. First, obviously, it failed. Second, the RB dive in short yardage with a stacked box is moronic. You have an entire field to gain 1 yard, and you’re going to put all your chips in the one area where the entire defense is? You’re asking an awful lot of your offensive line just to allow for even a 1 yard gain. Beyond this, we had already seen this fail earlier in the game, and you’re taking the ball out of your best players hands.

Here’s the look from behind the defense. There is incredibly little chance of winning that play at all. There were a number of plays that swung this game, but this fourth down failure stuck out to me beyond the others. It cost the Patriots a chance to regain the lead, it swung all momentum back to the Chiefs after it had been a back and forth affair—after this drive the Chiefs completely took over—and it showed a lack of evolving the game plan as the game went along, failing in the same way they failed in the first quarter. It was a poor play with little chance of success, and New England took the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands to do it. That type of situation needs to be corrected as the season goes along.