Monday night’s game out in Kansas City will go down as a missed opportunity as the Patriots had their chances to win this game. Here are some thoughts coming off a tough loss against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
1) What should have been a night for Brian Hoyer to make a statement and surprise his doubters with an upset of the Chiefs didn’t turn out quite the way he probably planned.
Unfortunately, he definitely made a statement. The bad news is, it left him on the bench.
Hoyer’s night turned into a mess of turnovers and mental miscues, the latter of which ultimately led to the veteran quarterback being benched in favor of second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Worse, it may have closed the door on any shot of starting again here in New England for Hoyer and to take it a step further, it may have also been the beginning of the end of his time with the Patriots.
It was a disappointing night to say the least, with Hoyer not capitalizing on an opportunity to have a big night in his first start as a member of the Patriots. Given his time with the club, that’s a surprising stat but Hoyer proved that not even Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels can turn around a guy who remains frustrating to watch when he’s on the field.
He was erratic from the beginning, throwing high on a sideline throw to Damiere Byrd on a 3rd-and-3 on their first series. A good throw would have been a completion and a first down but instead, the Patriots were forced to punt and the Chiefs were able to put together a drive and kicked a field goal to go up 6-0.
It didn’t get any better on the next series as Hoyer fired deep down the field to tight end Ryan Izzo, badly overthrowing him for what ended up being an interception. That turnover set the Chiefs up at New England’s 23-yard line.
However, the Patriots defense bailed Hoyer out on 2nd down when Stephon Gilmore came in to make the tackle on Sammy Watkins after a reception. Gilmore alertly punched out the football, with Watkins coughing it up and J.C. Jackson recovered.
Hoyer’s luck continued on the ensuing series. After James White picked up 13-yards, Hoyer found himself facing a 3rd-and-7 two plays later. He fired a pass to Julian Edelman, who saw the pass skip off Edelman’s hands and Gunner Olszewski made a terrific diving grab to snatch the football off the turf. That play moved the chains and helped them ultimately get on the board with a 43-yard field goal by Nick Folk, with the score sitting at 6-3 Chiefs.
But Hoyer fell apart from there, making a severe mental mistake in the closing minutes of the half with a chance to tie the game heading into the locker room. After driving down to the Chiefs 13-yard line, the Patriots were out of timeouts and went no-huddle with :10 left in the half. From there, the idea was likely to take a shot at the end zone and if there was nothing there, settle for a field goal.
Instead, Hoyer found himself under pressure and he scrambled to try and get away. But rather than throwing away the football, he did the worst thing possible and took a sack, causing the remaining seconds to tick away while ending any shot they had at getting points.
The worst part was, Hoyer then jumped up and tried to call timeout, not realizing they didn’t have any. As he looked around and continued signaling, he was ignored by the refs and time expired. After heading back to the sideline, he was greeted by an extremely angry Bill Belichick, who was visibly upset.
Hoyer started the second half with a 3-and-out, and then seemed to rebound with a nice drive. He took them from their own 16 down to the Chiefs 10yd-line, highlighted by a couple of terrific throws as he hit Edelman for 19 and then followed it up with a 25yd strike to Byrd, splitting two defenders on the play.
That play took them down to the Chiefs 12-yard line and they appeared poised to potentially take the lead. Instead, Hoyer was sacked on a 3rd-and-8 and lost the football, completely unaware of the pressure around him. The Chiefs recovered and it squandered yet another scoring opportunity and apparently, Belichick had seen enough. He benched the veteran QB in favor of Jarrett Stidham, who finished the contest.
Belichick is a big believer in situational awareness and despite his NFL experience, Hoyer clearly failed this test. What makes matters worse is the fact the Patriots had a shot at this one and it was those mental mistakes that ultimately cost them.
The veteran will likely survive until Cam Newton’s return but Stidham did more than enough Monday night to prove Hoyer’s time with the team is likely in doubt. That sequence in the first half was damning, and seeing it on film on the way home likely will leave Belichick with no choice but to move Stidham up the depth chart and – barring injuries – end any chance of Hoyer starting another game with the club this season.
This one stings and Hoyer likely spent the plane ride home with his headphones on quietly reliving quite a few horrible moments. Instead of shocking the Chiefs, he shocked every Patriots fan who was left completely stunned after that performance.
Stidham did about as well as could have been expected Monday night.
2) Meanwhile, Stidham looked fairly steady in his first extended NFL action. He led the Patriots down the field on his first drive, highlighted by a 41-yard run by Damien Harris that took them into Chiefs territory at the Kansas City 25-yard line.
He seemingly had a turnover on a deep pass attempt to N’Keal Harry, but replays showed he spotted Harry getting held and tried to throw it high to draw the penalty but it got picked off. Fortunately, it worked out as the officials did throw the flag on Kansas City for pass interference and the Patriots found themselves at the 8yd line.
From there, Stidham threw a perfect pass to Harry in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. That pulled the Patriots back to within 3 points at 13-10 w/13:45 left to play.
But the Chiefs managed to put together a drive on the next series, marching 75-yards on 9 plays that ended with a 6yd touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman, who was initially hit by Stephon Gilmore but still powered his way into the end zone. That put the Chiefs up 19-10 w/8:57 left to go in the game.
The dagger came on the next series when Stidham fired a pass to Edelman on an outside throw that skipped through his hands and into the hands of safety Tyrann Mathieu, who took it back 24-yards for the touchdown. That slammed the door at any shot at a comeback and ended up being the final points of the night for the Chiefs.
Stidham would add another interception but overall looked fairly confident and made some pretty good decisions. Barring a return by Newton this weekend, he at least likely proved that the coaches should feel confident in potentially starting him Sunday against Denver.
It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad for a second-year player who still managed to keep them in the game against the defending Super Bowl Champs. Should the opportunity present itself this weekend, it will be interesting to see if he can build off of it.
Belichick’s defense stepped up on Monday night.
3) One of the biggest things that stood out Monday night was the play of the Patriots defense, which for the most part stymied Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense and did an outstanding job given the circumstances.
For a team who spent the day traveling in anticipation of the game, Belichick’s group put together a tremendous effort for 60-minutes against one of the AFC’s most explosive offenses.
In fact, they were so good, Kansas City was held without a first-half touchdown since Mahomes took over at quarterback for just the third time, which again, came against New England.
They made big plays all night, including a big one in the second quarter that the referees managed to take away from them. Chase Winovich came busting in on a 3rd-and-4 and got to Mahomes, who tried to throw but lost the ball as he was going down and Shilique Calhoun snatched it just off the turf for what should have been an interception and took off with the football.
However, for some bizarre reason, the officials whistled the play dead and it went down as a 7-yard sack and rescued the Chiefs from a potential turnover and a big opportunity for the Patriots. Watching it in real-time, it appeared that the officials had ruled Calhoun down after the turnover as it seemed like he may have fought off the defender and might have been off to the races.
But for whatever reason, the officials apparently were saying it was Mahomes who was down. Looking at the replay, it was clear Mahomes tried to get rid of it as Winovich wrapped him up but the Chiefs quickly lined up and punted away the ball before Belichick could get clarification and challenge the play.
Overall, they did about as much as they could have been asked. They held Kansas City to 4-of-11 (36%) on 3rd down and kept the Chiefs in check all night but just couldn’t get any support from the offense. That’s the kind of effort that should have earned them a win and if nothing else, if the Patriots can remain in contention and earn a spot in the postseason, it proved the second meeting could turn out a little differently.
4) Running back Damien Harris had a solid night in his first full game action this season. He carried 17 times for 100-yards, including an explosive 41-yard run that helped set up their only touchdown of the night.
But the biggest thing that stood out about Harris was how tough he was running the football. He dragged the pile on quite a few of his carries and when the cameras zoomed in, he had a strong resemblance to former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk with his appearance, which any Patriots fan who has followed this team long enough may have picked up on.
He showed some pretty good quickness along with his ability to move the pile. He brings a solid change of pace to a running back group that saw Sony Michel end up on IR with a quad injury prior to the contest.
With Rex Burkhead to complement him, Harris was a nice 1-2 punch for a Patriots offense that couldn’t do much in the passing game consistently Monday night. But they managed to control the clock and wear down a Chiefs defense that had a tough time against them. It’s just too bad they couldn’t get anything going in the passing game because Harris and the Patriots backfield certainly did enough to help them win this one.
It was a tough night for Edelman in Kansas City.
5) Patriots receiver Julian Edelman has been banged up in recent weeks and Monday night saw him certainly not look like himself.
Edelman had an uncharacteristically rough night, including several drops, one of which led to a pick-six for Stidham and essentially eliminated any shot they had at a comeback. He looks tired and worn down after having taken a beating in recent weeks.
His body language on the turnover was disturbing as the ball slipped through his hands and he just looked completely worn out, with the image of him chasing Mathieu capping an evening where he had the appearance of a player that just didn’t quite have it Monday night.
One of the things worth mentioning is Edelman has had his fair share of hand injuries and seeing these passes go off his normally sure hands has to make you wonder if he’s again dealing with something. If so, it could definitely at least explain some of the difficulties we’ve seen him battling with this season.
He’s also been fighting through a knee injury and with the bye week coming up after next weekend, a week off could be just what the doctor ordered for a player that the Patriots will certainly need down the stretch if they hope to put themselves in a position to make a playoff run.
New England will now return home to take on the Broncos next Sunday afternoon at 4:25pm at Gillette Stadium.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season