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The Lane Breakdown: Patriots can’t take advantage of a tremendous defensive performance against the Chiefs

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 26-10 loss to Chiefs

NFL: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough night for the New England Patriots. No one really expected them to win in Kansas City after a weekend filled with uncertainty following Cam Newton’s positive Coronavirus test, but they did eventually play well enough to win. Unfortunately, thanks to some mental mistakes, poor execution, and really bad calls, they ended up losing by 16 points and a final score of 26-10. It wasn’t all bad, though, as there were quite a few positives to come out of the loss.

Defense back in form: The Patriots defense has struggled a bit this season, but that changed against the high-powered Chiefs. They held Patrick Mahomes and company to only 19 points on offense, and looked good doing it. New England was able to get consistent pressure without blitzing, and the secondary, even with some badly dropped interceptions, played very well against a tough opponent.

The Chiefs are going to get their yards, and they are almost impossible to stop completely, but holding their offense to under 20 points is a huge win. The offense couldn’t get it done, which is too bad, but the defense really made this game winnable.

Young guys stepping up: The Patriots are beaten up in quite a few areas. They continued to be without David Andrews, Shaq Mason was inactive, and they lost Jermaine Eluemunor early in the game, which forced two rookies into action on the right side of the offensive line. Both Michael Onwenu and Justin Herron played pretty well considering the circumstances (Herron will be charged for the strip sack against Brian Hoyer, but that was on Hoyer not Herron).

Then there’s Damien Harris, who ran hard in his first real game action, amassing 100 yards on the ground. N’Keal Harry added a nice touchdown catch as well. Rounding out the offense was Jarrett Stidham, who played well after the Hoyer benching. He didn’t do a ton, but he also didn’t make any bad mistakes, beyond the deep underthrow intended for Damiere Byrd.

Defensively, Chase Winovich looked great again, and Joejuan Williams and Kyle Dugger combined to really slow down Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. All in all, it was a good performance by a ton of young guys in Kansas City.

Officiating: You can never blame the officials for a loss, and Monday night was no different. They certainly didn’t help, though. They picked up a flag on what seemed to be an obvious personal foul against the Chiefs, threw a suspect one against Dietrich Wise Jr., and, most egregiously, blew a play dead on which the Patriots had picked off Patrick Mahomes. There were more issues for the Patriots than the officiating, and they still had a chance to win the game regardless of the refs. Had any of those calls gone their way, it would have helped, but, unfortunately, you can’t blame the refs for this loss.

Brian Hoyer: I love Brian Hoyer. He’s a great pro, a smart guy who really helped Tom Brady out, and he obviously loves it in New England. With that being said, his first career start for the Patriots showed why he should not be starting for them again. He had multiple overthrows, and made some incredibly cone-headed plays in the red zone. First, he took a sack at the end of the half, giving up an easy three points. It seemed like he thought he had another timeout, which is just completely unacceptable from an 11-year veteran.

He also held the ball for far too long and took a sack that turned into a fumble in the third quarter. What makes those two plays worse is that they were both avoidable rookie mistakes. Instead of simply throwing the ball away and ending up with a field goal, he tried to be the hero and held the ball until he could throw a potential touchdown. Both decisions blew up in his face, and cost the Patriots at least six points. Those are the types of plays you can’t make against anyone, but certainly not against a team as good as the Chiefs.

All in all, Monday night’s game was a disappointment considering that the Patriots had a real chance to win after no one expected them to. They will try to rebound next week against a Denver Broncos team riddled with injuries. If Cam Newton is back, he’ll once again be starting, but, if not, expect Stidham to get the call.

Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats