KANSAS CITY ‚Äď Yesterday at Fenway Park was all about Derek Jeter and nothing at all about the now-defrocked World Champion Red Sox.
Their 71-91 season came to a pitiful yet merciful end with a 9-5 loss to the Yankees in front of mostly Yankee fans at the Grande Dame at Yawkey Way.¬† The Red Sox disappointed everyone in 2014 with lousy offense and suspect pitching.¬† They became the first team in MLB history to go last place to world champs and then back to last place again.
So, the Red Sox are finally put to sleep.¬† Whew.¬† Finally, now we can concentrate on the Patriots and their fantastic new defense.
The Patriots may have served notice to the good people of New England, as well as the rest of the NFL, that this is a Red Sox-esque season in the offing.¬† The Patriot offense is just plain offensive.¬† The defense looked like Brandon Workman started tonight instead of Joe Kelly.¬† Kansas City is full of excitement, thanks to the fact that the Royals are about to play their first postseason game since 1985.¬† The Chiefs added to that excitement with a 41-14 pasting of the Patriots on Monday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium.
If this wasn‚Äôt the worst Bill Belichick-Tom Brady game, it is in the bottom three.¬† Brady got benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo after throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.¬† The Patriot defense surrendered 303 yards of offense in the first half, most in the Belichick era.¬† Brady looked like he can no longer find receivers consistently, and that includes Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
Kansas City is a place the Patriots rarely win in.¬† The Patriots are now 1-5 all-time at Arrowhead Stadium and 3-11-1 in Kansas City against the Chiefs.¬† The Patriots went from 1964 to 2004 between wins in western Missouri.¬† The Arrowhead crowd is notorious for being incredibly loud, and judging by how off kilter the Patriot offense was all evening long, it seems that the crowd gets another notch in its belt as it readies itself for Jon Lester and the Oakland A‚Äôs at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night.
The game was basically this in a nutshell:¬† Brady and the offense never got into a rhythm except for one quick third quarter drive, and the defense was continually bedeviled by terrific edge blocking by the Chiefs, incredible play design and execution especially on bubble screens, and Patriot defenders falling down and missing tackles.¬† The Patriot offensive line continues to stink out the joint, with the low water mark being Nate Solder playing matador to Tomba Hall, resulting in a strip sack of Brady with Hall recovering the fumble.
Give Andy Reid credit for a terrific coaching job.¬† Not often does Belichick get outcoached, but in this game, to quote Belichick‚Äôs mother Jeannette, he got ‚Äúwopped‚ÄĚ by Reid.¬† Reid may have laid out a blueprint for other teams to follow for the season in dealing with the retooled Patriot defense by attacking the flanks instead of the middle, but Reid had the manpower to pull it off as the Chief offense managed to pull off some plays that looked like masterpieces in design and execution.
To illustrate this further, the top offensive weapon for the Chiefs was arguably the tight end, Travis Kelce.¬† Kelce was Alex Smith‚Äôs top receiving target with eight catches for 93 yards.¬† Most of his receptions were quick hitches to the sidelines with Kelce lined up between either two wideouts or a wideout and an outside tackle.¬† He was able to play off that blocking and turn a 4-yard gain into a double-digit gain.¬† The Patriots had literally no answer for Kelce, not that they had an answer for most anyone wearing a red uniform.
Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, the two running backs for Kansas City, combined for 199 yards rushing.¬† Both rushers averaged over five yards per carry, and despite Davis‚Äô numbers being somewhat skewed by a 48-yard run on a fake end around, the Patriots fared poorly in trying to stop these guys.¬† Many of their runs were on left end runs with edge blockers sealing off Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.¬† Jones missed a chunk of the game with an injury, and despite getting one sack of Smith, was not a factor at all in this game.
Brady finished 14 of 23 passing for 159 yards, one touchdown and two picks for a miserable 59.9 passer rating.¬† Brady‚Äôs first interception was more the result of Edelman breaking off a route instead of a bad throw, and Sean Smith had an easy interception which he was able to return 34 yards to set up a third quarter field goal.¬† The second one was a bad throw over the middle that Husain Abdullah picked off and returned 39 yards for a touchdown to make it 41-7 Chiefs in the fourth quarter.¬† It was after this second interception that Garoppolo came into the game to finish up.
Rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo saw his first NFL action Monday night and threw his first NFL touchdown pass.
(USA TODAY Images)
Garoppolo fared much better.¬† He led the Patriots on a touchdown drive immediately, driving the Patriots 81 yards in seven plays and hitting passes with a crispness that Brady was never able to achieve.¬† He found Gronkowski from 13 yards out for a touchdown, with Gronk fighting off tacklers and finding his way into the end zone.¬† The rookie was 6 of 7 for 70 yards and a 147.9 passer rating in his NFL debut.
What was most puzzling about the Patriot offense is that they used three running backs (Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and James White) with the seeming intent to attack the somewhat substandard Chief run defense.¬† Vereen, normally a receiver first and rusher second, led the team with eight carries and the team totaled only 75 yards rushing.¬† Instead of pounding the ball with Ridley, the Patriots instead chose to try and pass to win, with disastrous results.
The Patriots are fortunate to be in a relatively weak division, but have to be questioning themselves for not being the team everyone thought they would be.¬† This leads to similarities between the Patriots and the Red Sox, as the Sox had offensive problems all season long, mostly in hitting with runners in scoring position.¬† The Patriots are countering that with continued bad offensive line play, and it‚Äôs amazing to watch Brady‚Äôs confidence diminish with each passing week.
Things don‚Äôt get better as the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals come to town next weekend.¬† The Bengals took the Patriots last year in the Queen City.¬† A change of venue might not matter if the Patriots don‚Äôt fix a lot of things and quick.
And, for Heaven‚Äôs sake, fans are even tweeting that the Patriots now have a quarterback controversy.¬† No.¬† Things aren‚Äôt quite right at the moment.¬† But they aren‚Äôt that bad.