The New England Patriots entered their Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs without their starting quarterback and top early-down running back, but were still able to play a competitive game for most of the contest. In the end, however, the Patriots did not make enough plays and shot themselves in the foot too many times to hang with the reigning world champions.
Patriots (2-2) 10 : 26 Chiefs (4-0)
The Patriots won the coin toss and decided to kick the football away — starting the game on defense against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s high-powered offense. Mahomes and company wasted no time, marching right down the field. New England did get a chance for a turnover on the series, but safety Devin McCourty was unable to hold onto a would-be interception. Instead, the Chiefs marched into field goal range and after a New England red zone stand had to settle for a 23-yard field goal. [Patriots 0 : 3 Chiefs]
Brian Hoyer and the Patriots’ offense, meanwhile, gained only nine yards on their first series: a short run, and incomplete pass, and a 7-yard throw to Damiere Byrd forced the team to bring punter Jake Bailey on to punt the ball away. New England’s defense had more success on its next drive by forcing a three-and-out of its own.
Josh McDaniels’ unit fared better on its second possession, if only marginally: the unit gained its first first down of the day on an 8-yard by undrafted rookie wide receiver Isaiah Zuber. The drive ultimately stalled again, however, to set up another Chiefs scoring drive. Despite Kansas City’s series starting at its own 4-yard line following another tremendous punt by Bailey, the home team was able to drive for its second field goal of the day. [Patriots 0 : 6 Chiefs]
New England’s next series was another short one. In fact, it ended on the first play: Hoyer threw an interception when he misfired for tight end Ryan Izzo down the seam, giving the Chiefs the ball at the Patriots’ 23-yard line.
The Chiefs, however, were unable to capitalize on the takeaway and instead turned the football over themselves on the next possession: Stephon Gilmore knocked the football out of Sammy Watkins’ hands with J.C. Jackson recovering.
New England responded with its best offensive series up until that point in the game: Hoyer and company went 60 yards in 13 plays, including a 3rd-and-7 conversion when a Julian Edelman drop ended up in Gunner Olszewski’s arms for an 11-yard catch and conversion. The series ultimately stalled, but a 43-yard Nick Folk field goal gave the Patriots their first points of the game. [Patriots 3 : 6 Chiefs]
The Patriots’ defense also had a strong series after Folk’s field goal, almost registering another takeaway. However, Mahomes was inadvertently called down on a sack by Chase Winovich that should have resulted in either a fumble recovery or an interception by Shilique Calhoun. The play stood as called, however, leading to a Chiefs punt instead of a turnover.
New England’s offense replied with another impressive series, marching all the way to the Kansas City 9-yard line. With time running out on the first half, however, Hoyer made another big mistake: instead of throwing the football away without a timeout, he took a sack that allowed the clock to wind down to zero — costing the Patriots a chance at a game-tying field goal or potential shot into the end zone for a touchdown.
New England had a chance to reestablish some offensive rhythm on the first drive after the half, but failed to do so: the team went three-and-out rather quickly, and had to punt the football back to the Chiefs. The reigning champs did not fare a lot better on their first possession of the half, and also had to send out their punt team before gaining any substantial yardage.
The Patriots responded with another encouraging drive, marching all the way into the red zone again behind a well-balanced offense and some good throws by Brian Hoyer. The veteran quarterback, however, made another massive mistake that ended up costing the New England points: on a 3rd-and-8 from the Kansas City 10-yard line, Hoyer held the ball too long and was strip-sacked by the Chiefs’ defense. The home team recovered, as the Patriots wasted another prime opportunity to at least tie the game.
This time, Kansas City was able to capitalize on New England’s miscues: with a 45-yard pass from Mahomes to Travis Kelce as their biggest play, the Chiefs marched 85 yards for the game’s first touchdown — Tyreek Hill found the end zone on a misdirection play that officially was counted as a 6-yard touchdown pass. [Patriots 3 : 13 Chiefs]
At that point, New England’s coaching staff decided it had seen enough from Brian Hoyer: the veteran was replaced by Jarrett Stidham. The initial impact on the offense was a positive one, with Damien Harris breaking off a 41-yard run to end the third quarter.
Stidham and company continued their success by scoring the Patriots’ first touchdown of the day: on a 3rd-and-goal from the 4-yard line, the youngster found fellow second-year man N’Keal Harry for a fade in the end zone to bring his team within three points again. [Patriots 10 : 13 Chiefs]
As was the case on their last possession, the Chiefs again were able to drive the length of the field. After Mahomes got lucky for a third time when another interception of his was dropped — J.C. Jackson was unable to hold onto an underthrown football — the Chiefs’ quarterback threw a second pitch touchdown to put his team up by nine points after a missed extra point. [Patriots 10 : 19 Chiefs]
Down nine points with under nine minutes left in the game, the Patriots still had a theoretical if small chance to come back. However, their next possession ended after only one play: Stidham threw a short pass intended for Julian Edelman but the veteran receiver dropped the football and it wound up in the hands of Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, who returned the interception 25 yards for a touchdown. [Patriots 10 : 26 Chiefs]
Stidham and the Patriots defense still had plenty of time to work with down two scores, but after the second-year passer converted two fourth downs he threw an interception on a deep pass intended for Damiere Byrd. The Chiefs were unable to score off the turnover, but they did cut another minute off the clock despite going three-and-out.
New England, however, went on to turn the ball over on downs — effectively ending the contest in the Chiefs’ favor.