The New England Patriots are still on their way to earn a first-round playoff bye, but they did suffer their second loss in a row on Sunday — and their first at home this year: the Kansas City Chiefs visited Gillette Stadium and were able to leave again with a 23-16 victory in their bags. New England, meanwhile, has still not locked up a playoff spot despite being 10-3 and owning the second best record in the AFC after 14 weeks of regular season play.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the players who stood out on Sunday, without the benefit of a film review.
Losers: The non-Julian Edelman wide receivers (Mohamed Sanu, Phillip Dorsett II, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers)
Mohamed Sanu is still only playing a marginal role after his ankle injury. Phillip Dorsett had another miscommunication with Tom Brady and generally was unable to get separation. Jakobi Meyers struggled with drops again. N’Keal Harry played only two snaps. For a second week in a row, the Patriots’ entire wide receiver group with the exception of number one target Julian Edelman played a disappointing game. Yes, they had their moments — from Harry’s catch-and-run that was ruled a 12-yard gain instead of a touchdown to Meyers’ 35-yard catch on a halfback pass from James White — but it was not enough to help New England’s struggling offense get into any consistent rhythm.
Winners: WR Julian Edelman & RB James White
The Patriots’ most reliable skill position players had another good outing against the Chiefs. While they also had some miscues, Julian Edelman and James White finished the game responsible for 198 of the team’s 278 yards of offense: Edelman had a team-high eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown as well as an 8-yard carry; White had five catches for 27 yards and six carries for 33 and also contributed a 35-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers. As productive as the two veterans were on Sunday, New England getting some production elsewhere would certainly also help them and create more favorable matchups.
Winner: FS Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty is arguably playing the best football of his career this season, and he had another solid outing against Kansas City’s talented offense while being involved in two of the biggest plays of the game. In the third quarter, he seemingly stopped wide receiver Sammy Watkins from gaining enough yardage to convert a third-and-four even though the play was upheld after a Bill Belichick challenge. Later on the same series, he also forced a Travis Kelce fumble that was recovered by New England. While the two plays cost the Patriots their two challenges — this would become relevant on the N’Keal Harry no-score — they did show McCourty’s impact on the game.
Loser: CB Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones settled down in the second half and made some strong plays against Tyreek Hill, but his slow start contributed to the Patriots falling behind early against Kansas City. Not only did he allow Hill to make some plays on him and also get open for a 21-yard catch on a third-and-19, he was furthermore unable to keep up with Mecole Hardman on a 45-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Kansas City’s offense is too good to let such lapses go unpunished, and Jones had two of them on Sunday.
Winner: LB Kyle Van Noy
Even though Kansas City had some success against the Patriots in the first half, the defense as a whole played a good game considering the circumstances. One of the unit’s standouts was once again linebacker Kyle Van Noy: while the final stat sheet has the veteran defender down with just five tackles, he was able to consistently set the edge well in the running game and bring pressure from the end of the line — including on a third-and-five that saw Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes get flagged for illegal grabbing the defender’s face mask.
Loser: The offensive line (Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, James Ferentz, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Marshall Newhouse)
Having to play without starting center Ted Karras, who was inactive because of a knee injury, the Patriots’ offensive line had one of its worst games of the season. The unit failed to consistently generate a push in the running game and also struggled to create stable pockets for quarterback Tom Brady to work in — something most obvious on third downs: according to Pro Football Focus, he was under pressure on 69.2 percent of New England’s third down plays. New center James Ferentz played a major part in this, but breakdowns occurred all over the line and disrupted the entire offense from start to finish.
They also hurt the kicking game, as Marcus Cannon and Marshall Newhouse failed to stop Tanoh Kpassagnon from getting into the backfield on Nick Folk’s 41-yard field goal attempt in the late first quarter. The kick would have given New England a 10-3 lead, but instead set up Kansas City’s first touchdown of the day.
Winner: CB J.C. Jackson
With Jason McCourty severely limited in his return — he was on the field for only four defensive snaps — J.C. Jackson again played a starting role as the outside cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore. And once more the second-year man showed why he is among the most promising young defensive backs in the NFL: Jackson’s name was rarely mentioned and he also registered an interception to end the Chiefs’s first drive of the day.
Loser: RB Sony Michel
The blocking and the Patriots falling behind in the second quarter contributed to his limited workload, but Sony Michel did not inspire much confidence against the Chiefs: finishing the game with only nine snaps and five attempts for eight yards, the former first-round draft pick was unable to find success against what has been a mediocre run defense so far this season. Kansas City deserves credit for clogging the lanes whenever he was on the field, but Michel himself remains an enigma 14 weeks into the season.
Winner: SS Nate Ebner
While the blocked field goal try is a blemish on the Patriots’ special teams record, the unit did make up for it later in the game: in the third quarter, Nate Ebner burst through the line unblocked on a punt and was able to get his hands onto the football for a clean block. The ball ultimately rolled out of bounds at the Chiefs’ 19-yard line, and the offense scored its second touchdown of the day just two plays later. Ebner’s block was a momentum-changing play that put the Patriots in position again to come back out of a 16-point hole.
Pats Pulpit Live: Week 14 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs
Welcome to Pats Pulpit Live! The Patriots lose a tough one at home to Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to fall to 10-3 on the season.Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 8, 2019