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The Lane Breakdown: Officiating not the only reason for the Patriots’ loss against the Chiefs

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Related: ‘We still had a chance in the game’: Patriots share their thoughts on the officiating after losing to Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Sure, the officiating was horrible in yesterday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, there’s no doubt about that. However, the Patriots also left a ton of points on the field, and share a big part of the blame in the loss.

Let’s start with the refs, since that’s obviously such a huge issue. They missed a bunch of egregious calls that would have went against the Chiefs, forcing the Patriots to use both challenges early in the second half. The first of which was clearly marked incorrectly on the field, but still upheld upon review, meaning the Patriots would lose a challenge they probably should’ve won.

Then there’s the Travis Kelce play, where, not only did the officials not call it a fumble on the play, but then proceeded to blow the whistle and prevent Stephon Gilmore from returning the fumble. Maybe he scores there and maybe he doesn’t, but the refs are taught to not blow the whistle, and let the play continue. They can decide if it’s a turnover or not after the play. On this particular play, if Gilmore were to actually score, it would’ve ended in an automatic review anyway, saving the Patriots need to challenge.

In case you’re keeping count, that’s two challenges whose outcomes should have been different for the Patriots. And then, there’s the final play of the trifecta. N’Keal Harry makes a great effort to dive into the end zone for what should’ve been a touchdown, except the refs inexplicably had him out at the 3-yard line. Because the Patriots were out of challenges due to the previous ineptitude of the refs, they were unable to challenge, and had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.

There were many other terrible calls, and non-calls, like the pass interference that went uncalled against Phillip Dorsett on the final drive. But, there were also missed calls that benefited the Patriots as well. Obviously those calls were not as game-changing in nature, but the refs were simply terrible all game long.

A perfect representation of that was Sammy Watkins blocking Gilmore 10 yards out of bounds, followed by the entire Patriots defense coming to his aid. Not a single penalty flag was thrown on that play. It was essentially a fight that broke out on the field and extended to the Chiefs sideline, and yet, the refs decided to just let them play. That was what the crew was like yesterday. Anyway, let’s move on.

The refs were terrible, but the Patriots’ execution wasn’t much better. Two plays after the infamous Harry non-touchdown, Jakobi Meyers dropped what should have been a score on second-and-goal. If he catches that ball, the Patriots score a touchdown anyway, and end up only being down three on the final drive.

Then there’s the fact that the Patriots looked completely dead in the first half. The inability of their receivers to get open, and then do anything once they get the ball is incredibly frustrating, and it was on display once again. At this point, Meyers just needs to get off the field, because he is an absolute disaster. The Patriots’ offensive line was also terrible, with Isaiah Wynn having his first truly bad game as a Patriot, and both guards getting consistently dominated by the Chiefs front.

There was a big positive that came out of this game though, and, similar to the Chiefs loss in 2014, it’s something that won’t show up on any stat sheet: the Patriots never quit. They fought until the very end of the game. At halftime, it looked like it would be a blowout, and the defense then held the Chiefs to just three points in the second half. This team may not have the talent that it’s had in the past, or that we thought it did at the beginning of the season, but they do have a lot of heart.

That might not matter for some teams, but for the Patriots, that matters plenty. It wouldn’t surprise me if this team wins the next three (admittedly, two are easy games), and goes into the playoffs with the swagger. We saw how that worked last year, let’s just hope they can pull something similar off this year too.

Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats

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