November 23, 2004
The Bottom Line Continues To Be Winning
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
KANSAS CITY -- Honk if you care that Trent Green and Eddie Kennison took Earthwind Moreland to school on Monday night.
Moreland’s side won, 27-19. Enough said.
Johnnie Morton, Kennison and Tony Gonzalez combined for 282 yards receiving. Green threw for 373 yards.
Their side lost, 27-19. Only the fantasy buffs can love that stuff.
The Patriots continue to show everyone on the planet what the most important element in the National Football League is. If the Patriots are playing in the season’s final game in Jacksonville in February, nobody is going to care that Green torched the Patriot defense on November 22nd. Nobody is going to care that Corey Dillon fumbled at the Kansas City three with a chance to put the game in the refrigerator. Nobody is going to care that the Patriots had to face the number one offense in the league with Troy Brown at cornerback and Don Davis at safety.
The Patriots simply won. Period. End of story.
This was one of those games where the only thing that mattered was the final score. The Patriots made the plays they had to, the Chiefs did not, and the Patriots won. Purists out there have to be exasperated at watching the Patriots play, expecting a 9-1 team which is the current champion to massacre substandard opponents only to let them hang around all game long and survive at the end. The Patriots played well enough to blow the Chiefs away, but in the end gave up just enough to keep things close.
Before delving into this affair, it should be noted that the second best element of this win, other than the nice won-loss record, is that this was the first win by the Patriots at Arrowhead Stadium in franchise history. It was the first win in Kansas City by the Patriots in 40 years. This was a franchise first for the good guys. That right there should exonerate the Patriots from any “blame” for not blowing the Chiefs out of the water tonight.
That said, everyone knew that the Chiefs would light up the stadium with lots of offense. Given the depleted Patriots secondary, it figured that Kansas City would smack the Patriots broadside, even with their top rushing weapon, Priest Holmes, sidelined for the game. When you have Asante Samuel as the “main shutdown corner” out there, Green had to be licking his chops.
All things considered, it is puzzling that the Chiefs didn’t inflict more damage on the Patriots. But for some strange play calling tactics, the Chiefs might have kept the Patriots on the schnide here at Arrowhead. The Patriots did continue their astounding ability to play well despite being without Ty Law and Tyrone Poole on defense, but the sad truth is that the Patriots really had no answer for the Chief passing game all night long, only that the Chiefs never really made the Patriots pay for it.
Two areas need to be emphasized. Kennison was killing Moreland all night long. He burned Moreland for touchdowns of 65 and 25 yards. Morton was a dropped pass away from a 46-yard touchdown bomb against Moreland. As long as Moreland was in the game, why offensive coordinator Al Saunders didn’t flummox Moreland with more long stuff needs to be explained.
The other area involves backup running back Derrick Blaylock, Holmes’ replacement. He carried 19 times for 58 yards. It was clear early on that the Patriots were not the New Orleans Saints, whom Blaylock spanked for 186 yards last week. Every time Kansas City handed the ball off to Blaylock, the Chiefs were doing the Patriots a favor. Saunders failed to take full advantage of all the fishes he had in the Patriot secondary.
To New England’s credit, they managed to put good pressure on Green against arguably the best offensive line in the league. The Patriots sacked Green four times and hurried him often during the game. This may have led to Saunders needing to mix up the plays and to try and throw New England off with runs to set up the play action pass. It really wasn’t necessary, as Chief receivers were getting open most all game long against a Patriot defense forced to play zone schemes with multiple defensive back packages.
If Moreland wasn’t a big enough fish, what about Brown and Davis? Brown is still green around the gills anyway. But Davis at safety? Here’s a second string linebacker known primarily for his prowess on special teams. Saunders never considered sending Gonzalez out there to test him? Or send two wideouts his way?
This is not to condemn the Chief offense. It came exactly as advertised, and it played like it was the top ranked unit in the league. This is only to say that they could have torched the Patriots for even more, and did not take advantage of a myriad of mismatches they could have created.
Once again, the Patriots come off as the smarter team, and the one which came out victorious. The Patriots had a smarter offensive game plan, and executed it well throughout the evening. The Chiefs outgained the Patriots 417 to 407 and Green outpassed Tom Brady, 381 yards to 317. But Brady beat Green in rating points, 114.9 to 99.4. It all added up to a win for the Patriots in a road venue they had never won in before in team history.
Despite Dillon fumbling at the Chief 3 yard line, which begat a 97-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter by the Chiefs which brought them to within 24-19, he rolled up 98 yards rushing and once again helped put the game away in the fourth quarter. On the final Patriot offensive possession, Dillon carried seven times for 28 yards. These carries helped take 4:27 off of the final six minutes, and it forced the Chiefs to burn all their timeouts. This was a weapon the Chiefs did not have, and it was a weapon the Patriots did not have last year. It is no coincidence that in the only Patriot loss of 2004, Dillon did not play. He once again put the game away thanks to his powerful running style, and the Patriots dearly needed it.
As long as the Patriots continue to win under these adverse circumstances, they will be among the top contenders once again for at least another AFC championship. If the top offense in the league still couldn’t find a way to exploit the depleted Patriot secondary, who will? Maybe nobody will see it or figure it out.
The bottom line is still about winning the game, and the Patriots continue to be the best at it. Only the perfectionists need complain anymore.
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