The delayed visit to Arrowhead Stadium ended in defeat for the New England Patriots.
New England, flying out in two planes from two airports Monday morning, fell to the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 26-10 in the evening.
Here is a glance through what transpired.
Hoyer’s start ends in the third quarter
With Cam Newton placed on the Covid-19 reserve list Saturday, it was Brian Hoyer who got the start for New England at quarterback. It’d be the 39th of Hoyer’s NFL journey. But it would be his first for the organization he entered the league with as a free agent out of Michigan State in 2009.
Hoyer went 15-of-24 passing for 130 yards and an interception against a Chiefs team that entered as double-digit favorites. There were high throws early. And one of which, intended for tight end Ryan Izzo down the seam at the close of the opening quarter, became a leaping pick for Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill. A situational lapse surfaced along the way, as well. It came on third-and-9 in the red zone with no timeouts and eight seconds left before halftime. Kansas City defensive end Frank Clark sacked a scrambling Hoyer for a loss of 13, leaving a chance to tie the game on the sideline in the process. The 34-year-old QB signaled for a timeout that New England did not have.
Time ran out on Hoyer in the third quarter. A promising drive that included sharp completions of 19 and 25 yards ended with a sack and forced fumble via Kansas City’s Taco Charlton off the edge.
Gilmore’s punch leads to New England’s initial points
The Patriots got on the board to begin the second quarter. A punch technique courtesy of Stephon Gilmore had a hand.
The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year located and jarred the football out of Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ possession. And on the heels of New England’s turnover, Kansas City had one of their own. Cornerback J.C. Jackson recovered what went in the books as the sixth forced fumble of Gilmore’s tenure in the league.
A 13-play push that gave way to a 43-yard field goal from kicker Nick Folk followed.
Harris reshuffles the Patriots’ deck at running back
The Patriots downgraded running back Sony Michel from questionable to out leading up to the 7:05 p.m. ET matchup due to a quad injury. Michel, coming off a game in which he averaged 13 yards per rushing attempt and finished with 117 in all, would then be placed on injured reserve.
But Damien Harris got the green light from it.
Activated to the roster in time for the Monday transaction wire, Harris started and handled a New England-high 17 carries as part of a backfield rotation featuring Rex Burkhead and James White. The redshirted Alabama product, selected in the third round of the 2019 draft, entered with a dozen rushing yards on his NFL log. Harris added an even 100 against Kansas City, with a long of 41.
Missing between the lines
Chris Jones registered 3.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles over the course of September. He practiced in a limited capacity throughout the week and was listed as questionable to face New England because of a groin injury. But Kansas City’s 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle would not be on the field Monday night.
It’d be a notable development. An offensive line starting James Ferentz at center as well as rookie sixth-rounders in Michigan’s Michael Onwenu and Wake Forest’s Justin Herron on the right side would be another.
Amid the moving parts for the Patriots, projected right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor was sidelined by a migraine and franchise-tagged left guard Joe Thuney returned to his regular post. A calf injury sent Shaq Mason to the inactives list 90 minutes prior to kickoff. And a unit already without captain David Andrews acquitted itself as well as could be expected.
New England’s next round against Mahomes
Monday night marked Patrick Mahomes’ fourth encounter with New England. Over the previous, the 2018 NFL MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP had thrown for 930 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
But by intermission, Mahomes had been pressured more frequently than he’d been blitzed. He faced zone coverage more than man-to-man looks. And while there was a stretch in which the Kansas City offense notched first downs on four consecutive plays, Mahomes headed back into the tunnel 11-of-17 passing for 137 yards and no touchdowns. A strip-sack by Patriots outside linebacker Chase Winovich could have added a turnover to the quarterback’s stat line before the midway point. The whistle went. And with it, so did Kansas City’s special teams onto the field to quickly punt.
Mahomes pop-passed his first touchdown of the game to the 4.29 40-yard-dash speed of Tyreek Hill. His second arrived with help from the jet-sweeping Mecole Hardman as the game broke open.
Stidham tosses first NFL TD pass in relief appearance
It was Jarrett Stidham behind center for the final 16 minutes.
Pick No. 133 overall from a year ago was among New England’s inactives until Monday. But Stidham relieved Hoyer and proceeded to find the end zone from four yards out. Stidham’s first NFL touchdown pass would be his first completion of the season. It landed in the hands of draft classmate N’Keal Harry on a diving fade.
The quarterback by way of Baylor and Auburn finished 5-of-13 for 60 yards and a pair of interceptions to go with the score. A drop from Patriots veteran Julian Edelman in the flat wound up returned for six by perennial All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu. A deep shot to another wideout in Damiere Byrd then found Chiefs corner Rashad Fenton instead.