While New England is celebrating Saturday’s accomplishments by the defending Super Bowl Champions, the focus in the mid-west is on Andy Reid’s time management. While Reid added another example to his list of games where focus on the clock and timeouts can be questioned, few in the mid-west have yet to grasp the truth that the Patriots outplayed the Chiefs. A loss after winning eleven games in a row it is certainly a sharp jolt and difficult reality check for their loyal fans, but even with better clock management by KC in all likelihood the Pats still would have won the game.Here is a look at some of the reactions from Kansas City on the Chiefs loss to the Patriots.
The Chiefs lost a playoff game, and so of course, the instinct is to find something to hang on, but this was not a 28-point lead or failing to force even one punt or missing field goals or choking in the final minutes. The Chiefs lost to a better team. They lost to a better quarterback and a better coach. They are in good company there.
The Patriots played better than the Chiefs. Knile Davis lost a key fumble, the Chiefs’ defense failed to convert some turnover opportunities, and the Patriots’ game plan and blocking kept Tom Brady remarkably clean. Even without the injuries — and, it should be noted, the Patriots had a bunch of injuries, too — the Chiefs would’ve had to play at least an A-minus game to win. Instead, they played like a C-minus, maybe D-plus.
The frustration is in the bigger picture. I mentioned this in the column, but this season was a great opportunity for teams like the Chiefs. There is no great contender in the AFC. The Broncos are working around a jagged quarterback situation, the Steelers’ defense is mediocre at best, and the Patriots have some obvious flaws.
If the Chiefs don’t blow the first Broncos game, they would’ve been hosting that band-aid Steelers team at Arrowhead, with a healthy Maclin, and a better rested Justin Houston. That’s the chance the Chiefs blew, not the clock management. Next year, even if the Chiefs are better, it may not be like this.
Was Andy Reid lulled into an improper game plan based on New England’s final game(s) of the season?
The Patriots showed them how — by playing physical, precise, mistake-free free football. In a game where the Chiefs actually out-gained the Patriots (378-340), had superior third-down percentages (60 percent to 50 percent) and dominated the time-of-possession battle (37:51 to 22:09), it was the little things that made the difference.
Like turnovers, of which the Chiefs had one and the Patriots had zero. And execution, as the Chiefs had some on-field breakdowns and clock management issues. And even injuries, as the Patriots’ injured stars — including Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski — outshined the Chiefs’. While Edelman and Gronkowski combined for 17 catches and 183 yards, Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin caught two passes for 23 yards while playing through a high-ankle sprain.
But from the get-go Saturday, it was clear that the Patriots were not the same team that blew a chance at home-field advantage with a 20-10 loss to Miami in the regular-season finale. While they kept the ball on the ground in that game, running with marginal success, star quarterback Tom Brady came out slinging against the Chiefs, completing 28 of 42 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
“The last couple of games they had run the ball quite a little bit, and this one here, they came out and threw almost every down in the first half,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
While the focus of the week’s pre-game talk was injuries to the Patriots, apparently the end result was due in large part to injuries to the Chiefs.
We talked before the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game in Foxboro that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots would take something away from the Chiefs. Would it be the running game? Would it be an injured Jeremy Maclin? Or would it be the most obvious one: Travis Kelce.
The Patriots put plenty of resources into stopping Kelce and they did a really good job of it. Kelce ended the game with six catches for just 23 yards (and it didn’t help that he dropped a critical third down pass that could’ve put the Chiefs in field goal territory).
This forced the Chiefs to get others involved. Jason Avant was the Chiefs leading receiver. Albert Wilson was next. The first three plays of the game were passes to Demetrius Harris, Anthony Sherman and Frankie Hammond. The Patriots taking Kelce out was made easier with Jeremy Maclin’s injury. Maclin played 34 of the 89 offensive snaps. That is a TON of snaps.
Defensively, what would the Patriots take away from the Chiefs? The pass rush. Like the offense with Maclin, injuries made this easier for New England. Justin Houston played eight snaps in the game. We didn’t know before the game that he would be so limited. Tom Brady got the ball out so fast that the Chiefs had no chance for a pass rush as the Patriots spread the ball out so well. That’s their bread and butter.
Bottom line is that the Chiefs went up against the best coach and quarterback of our generation – at home – and lost. The better team won the game.
Speaking of Kelce, the Kansas City tight end apparently made the mistake of poking the bear before the game began.
Travis Kelce did a very Travis Kelce thing before the Kansas City Chiefs’ divisional playoff matchup against the New England Patriots on Saturday.
The tight end approached Tom Brady during the quarterback’s usual walkout to Jay-Z. Kelce, of course, had “words” for Brady.
Then there is the obligatory ‘thanks for the great season’ article, complete with the tired, lame, old, expected and not-so-subtle jabs at the Patriots.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage! Rage against the dying of the light!
Maybe you’re a Dylan Thomas fan. Maybe you’re a fan of Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. Either way, despite losing to Satan’s afterbirth, and in complete contrast to everything I expect to express in these moments, I find myself at peace with the end.
I know, I know. Brady had enough time and room in the pocket to Riverdance, read tweets about how he was born of a virgin and make reservations for dinner after the game. Gronk SMASHed. Alex was off just enough to rocket the ball over finger tips in crucial red zone moments. Knile turned the ball over on the drive where we most needed to land a face punch. We punched ourselves in the face with late game clock mismanagement.
But somewhere in the void, in the disappointment, in the missed opportunity, in watching Goliath drop kick David in the huevos and then fly off with his mother and girlfriend to Hedonism II, I find myself feeling something deeper, resonant and undeniable: gratitude.
On to the
elephant walrus in the room.
The Chiefs’ last scoring drive cut the final score to 27-20 in their loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional playoff game on Saturday.
But it was the way the Chiefs acted on the drive that had people upset. Charcandrick West’s 1-yard run capped a 16-play, 80-yard yard drive that ate up 5 minutes and 16 seconds of the clock. The clock management was a topic across the nation.
A large number of national-baseball writers joined in the chorus.
It is very hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter. That’s the situation the Chiefs found themselves Saturday night: They got the ball back from the Patriots down 27-13 with 6:29 remaining.
It’s especially hard to win a football game when you’re trailing by two scores in the fourth quarter and your coach farts on the concept of clock management. Unfortunately, Kansas City’s coach is Andy Reid, perhaps the NFL’s least clock-savvy coach. Over and over again throughout Reid’s career, he’s been baffled by the very concept of time.
And so, the Chiefs were more doomed than most teams. With Reid manning an astrolabe, the Chiefs embarked on a 17-play drive that took a staggering five minutes and 26 seconds, leaving them little to no chance of winning.
The issues first started in the opening half, when the Chiefs were forced to burn two early timeouts in order to get the offense properly set. In fact, Reid used the first two timeouts on Kansas City’s opening drive—a drive that yielded a mere field goal.
This created problems at the end of the first half, when the Chiefs had the ball inside Patriots territory at the two-minute warning. Kansas City moved from the New England 46 to the New England 11 in just three plays, but it was forced to take its final timeout there with 40 seconds remaining.
Clock management was an even bigger issue late in the second half, when the Chiefs got the football with 6:29 remaining and facing a two-touchdown deficit.
What happened at the 1-yard line was inexcusable.
The Chiefs reached the New England 1-yard line on a 19-yard pass from Smith to Albert Wilson. Wilson didn’t get out of bounds or into the end zone, and the Chiefs ran just one play between Wilson’s reception and the two-minute warning. That play was a one-yard loss on a run by Charcandrick West.
Just for fun, there are these pre-game previews that did not quite come to fruition.
· The Chiefs defense will present a nightmare match-up for the Patriots offense. Kansas City’s ability to generate a consistent pass rush from their defense line without blitzing will be a huge key. Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard were beasts against the Texans and they will be more than a handful for New England’s porous offensive line. If the d-line can move Brady off his spot and hit him even when they don’t sack him, the rest of the defense will benefit. Also, Bob Sutton will then be free to bring extra pressure with some well-designed and disguised blitz packages at his discretion instead of being forced to generate a pass rush through exotic blitzes.
· Ron Gronkowski will not be 100%. The Pats are getting Julian Edelman back from injury, Edelman will also be less than full strength…
The Chiefs defense is ranked seventh in the NFL this year and has been much better than that since the 1-6 start. Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe have gotten healthier as the season has progressed and the defensive performance has taken a major step forward. I think we can put a check next to the Chiefs for strong defense.
Of course there are also many comments from KC fans calling for the suspension of Danny Amendola for his block on Jamell Fleming. I’ll write that off as expected knee-jerk reactions to a big hit, fueled by inaccurate commentary by inflammatory commentary from one of the television commentators. Dan Fouts was wrong on so many plays and so many opinions Saturday that it became noticeable to even very casual fans not rooting for the Patriots where I viewed the game. It is the second largest topic of conversation in Chiefs Nation behind Andy Reid’s clock mismanagement, but had zero effect on the outcome of the game.
This team had all of the talent, even with the injuries, to make a push for the Super Bowl. When I watched this game, I didn’t come away thinking, “well only if we had Jeremy Maclin and Spencer Ware” or “only if we had Justin Houston.” Do we have a better shot at winning with those guys healthy? Absolutely. But what I ultimately saw out there against New England was 22 men who weren’t being put in positions to succeed. It came down to game planning, discipline and clock management; that is where we took the L. And those are areas where there is only so much room for improvement without changing who is in charge. So with that in mind, it is fair to wonder if the level of optimism surrounding this football team should be static.
The biggest roadblocks in yesterday’s game were the same roadblocks that we faced versus Indianapolis two years ago, Reid and Sutton. These guys are only getting older and their methods are only becoming more predictable. I understand that they are likely the best options available for those two positions. But the real question we have to ask about this football team is, how much talent do we need in order to transcend the ineptitude that Andy Reid and Bob Sutton exhibit in big games against the elite head coaches and coordinators that this league has to offer? Because for all the talent Philadelphia had during those years in the Reid Era, they could never get it done in big games and it was for the very same reasons we haven’t been able to come out the victor in our playoff losses and many of our regular season losses against the better football teams in the league.
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