Coming off a loss in Houston, the New England Patriots showed plenty of mental toughness against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs but ultimately did come up just short: the Patriots lost 23-16 after falling behind in the second quarter and therefore stand at 10-3 heading into the home stretch of the regular season. With that being said, let’s recap the action.
Patriots (10-3) 16 : 23 Chiefs (9-4)
With the Chiefs winning the coin toss, the Patriots received the opening kickoff and started the game on offense. The team did not find particular success early on and found itself in third-and-long situations twice — converting both thanks to pass interference penalties against the defense. After the second such call, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels went deep into his bag of tricks and pulled out a flea-flicker that led to a touchdown: Tom Brady handed the football off to James White, who tossed it back to Brady who in turn his a wide open Julian Edelman from 37 yards out. [Patriots 7 : 0 Chiefs]
Flea flicker touchdown!— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 8, 2019
( @FTBeard11) pic.twitter.com/9zHE3fzSK1
New England’s first defensive series went equally well: on third-and-nine, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tried to connect with Demarcus Robinson, but cornerback J.C. Jackson was able to pick the football off.
Jackson picks off Mahomes.— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 8, 2019
( @FTBeard11) pic.twitter.com/Lt6iYRqmA5
While the Patriots offense started their next drive in good field position, they failed to take advantage of Jackson’s interception. After just three plays, New England had to punt the football back to Kansas City again.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, were able to get into a better rhythm on their next possession, with a conversion on third-and-10 as the biggest play of the drive. Ultimately, however, the series stalled after nine plays and 53 yards gained which led to Kansas City settling for a 48-yard field goal to get on the board. [Patriots 7 : 3 Chiefs]
New England responded well by producing a good-looking drive that included some balanced play-calling and good pass plays from Brady to Mohamed Sanu, Julian Edelman and Matt LaCosse. Ultimately, however, the drive ended without points. After an incompletion on 3rd and 3, the Patriots sent Nick Folk onto the field to add to the team’s lead. However, the Chiefs were able to block his 41-yard field goal attempt and take over at their own 42-yard line.
Unlike the Patriots, Kansas City was able to take advantage of its big defensive play: it took the team seven plays to find the end zone on a 48-yard pass from Mahomes to rookie receiver Mecole Hardman. To make matters worse for the Patriots, they surrendered two third down conversions — one via a holding call against Stephon Gilmore that negated a sack, another on a 3rd and 19 when Tyreek Hill beat Jonathan Jones. [Patriots 7 : 10 Chiefs]
The Patriots were unable to reply to Kansas City’s touchdown and build on the offensive momentum they created on the previous series — quite the opposite: on the first play from scrimmage, Brady was picked off by cornerback Bashaud Breeland on a pass intended for LaCosse. The interception set the Chiefs up New England’s 35-yard line, and once again they were able to put points on the board on a 4-yard touchdown run by Travis Kelce. [Patriots 7 : 17 Chiefs]
New England’s next possession went better than the last, at least early on: after a 19-yard run by James White and an 18-yard pass to Julian Edelman, the Patriots were in field goal range. After a drop by Jakobi Meyers on third down, however, they did not send Nick Folk onto the field and instead tried their luck on fourth-and-seven. The gamble did not pay off, though, as Brady threw wide for Edelman and New England turned the football over on downs.
This time, however, the Chiefs failed to capitalize on the Patriots’ miscues. While they did cross midfield again, a pass-breakup by Gilmore against Sammy Watkins forced a punt. The Patriots had four minutes to operate and potentially get some momentum back but they were unable to get much going on offense and had to punt themselves after a quick three-and-out. Kansas City, meanwhile, was able to get another field goal on its next drive. [Patriots 7 : 20 Chiefs]
While the Patriots had one minute left to work with in the second half, the offense again was unable to get much going and the team entered the locker room at the half down by 13 points.
Kansas City started the second half with the ball and was quickly able to cross midfield again. While the Patriots defense forced its opponent into a fourth-and-short situation to potentially stop the series, it failed to get off the field and ultimately had to see the Chiefs kick a 41-yard field goal to increase New England’s deficit to 16 points. [Patriots 7 : 23 Chiefs]
The two teams exchanged three-and-outs after Kansas City’s field goal, but the Patriots were able to make a big play on the Chiefs’ punt: Nate Ebner burst through the line of scrimmage to block the kick and set New England’s offense up at the opposing 19-yard line:
Nate Ebner with the block!— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 8, 2019
( @Patriots) pic.twitter.com/PwZ74fQFZL
Just two plays after the blocked punt — the Patriots’ fourth of the season — New England was able to cash in on the short field: Brandon Bolden received the hand-off on a run to the outside and was able to get into the end zone from 10 yards out for the Patriots’ second touchdown of the game. However, the subsequent two-point try was unsuccessful as James White was stopped short of the goal line. [Patriots 13 : 23 Chiefs]
Brandon Bolden is in!— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 8, 2019
( @nfl) pic.twitter.com/ZtvxS1Lt9U
New England was able to deliver another big play on the following drive, with safety Devin McCourty forcing a turnover: the veteran defender knocked the football out of tight end Travis Kelce’s hand and Stephon Gilmore was able to scoop up the loose ball — seemingly with nothing but open field ahead of him, but an early whistle prevented a potential score. The Patriots did, however, get possession after a successful challenge:
Huge play by @McCourtyTwins.— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) December 9, 2019
( @FTBeard11) pic.twitter.com/gkHddfXND8
The Patriots having to burn a challenge — their second of the half — on an obvious turnover that was ruled wrongly proved to be costly for them, tough. The team drove deep into Kansas City territory following the takeaway but N’Keal Harry was ruled out of bounds at the 3-yard line on what was a clear touchdown catch-and-run. However, the Patriots were unable to challenge the play and the Chiefs subsequently held New England to a 29-yard field goal. [Patriots 16 : 23 Chiefs]
While the Patriots failed to turn Kelce’s fumble into a touchdown, the field goal brought them within seven points of the Chiefs — and gave the offense a chance to tie the game after a defensive three-and-out. New England’s offense was able to get the ball to midfield, but a drive that started promising ended up with a Jake Bailey punt after Brady was forced to throw the football away on 3rd and 12.
New England’s defense held on the next drive, however, and forced another Kansas City punt after just three plays. With five minutes left in the game, the Patriots were therefore once again in a position to tie the contest. However, they failed to do so: while Tom Brady did convert a fourth-and-six during the series on a 17-yard scramble, another fourth down pass intended for Julian Edelman fell incomplete to clinch the game for the visitors.
Despite their second straight loss, the Patriots are still the second seed in the AFC at the moment.