New England came ready to fight as the undefeated Chiefs challenged them at home. The game turned into a shootout since both teams were evenly matched. In the end, the Patriots prevailed with a final score of 43-40. While the offense did an incredible job, the defense truly won the game.
Dont’a Hightower tore down Kansas City’s offensive momentum. Hightower had an interception that boosted New England’s energy towards the end of the first quarter. Michel was able to finish off and convert for the Patriot’s first touchdown of the game on the next play. On the next drive, Hightower blitzed and was able to force the Chiefs quarterback to overthrow his touchdown pass, thus holding them to yet another field goal. At the end of the second quarter, he forced more pressure and Mahomes’ pass was intercepted by Duron Harmon. Hightower went on to make more plays similar to these, and changed the unit’s energy. He was the MVP behind New England’s defensive win.
The defensive line, in general, did amazing, but Trey Flowers had an outstanding game. He led the team in statistics with 7 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 quarterback hit. Flowers and Hightower combined brought the pressure on Mahomes. Had they not forced him to throw too early and make inconsistent passes, the field goals that Kansas City had to kick could’ve easily been touchdowns. The Chiefs didn’t score a touchdown until the third quarter; they only scored 3 field goals in the entire first half. Two of those field goals could have (and should have) been easy touchdowns for Kansas City; thanks to Flowers and the defensive line, they weren’t.
Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel
These two players were the biggest contributors to the offense. While the defense evened the playing field, the offense still had points to score. Rob Gronkowski finished the game with 3 catches for 97 yards. He was only targeted four times in the entire game, yet he had the most net yards out of all the receivers. Only Gronkowski could pull off a statistic like that. Sony Michel, on the other hand, received nearly all of Brady’s handoffs. He had 24 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns. The rookie has been made a critical component of New England’s defense; they found their new Dion Lewis.
The McCourty brothers couldn’t have been more out of sync during this game. Jason McCourty had the first major mess up when he allowed a Kansas City touchdown (their first of the game) one minute into the second half. Devin McCourty followed suit on the Chiefs next drive, not having the energy to break up a touchdown pass to make it a one-point game. Devin continued his streak, nearly letting the punt returner score a touchdown with a crucial missed tackle. On the following play, Devin couldn’t get to the receiver in time, who scored a Kansas touchdown to take the lead over New England. Jason could have had an interception to ice the game, except he couldn’t hold on. Bad plays by one twin must mean a bad game for the other. Their lack of coverage almost cost the Patriots the game.
Duron Harmon had 3 tackles and 1 interception. While the interception kept Kansas City from scoring a touchdown, they came right back at him in the second half. In the fourth quarter, Harmon became responsible for a 75-yard catch by Tyreek Hill to tie the game 40-40 with 3 minutes left in the game. Harmon let his game down just long enough for Hill to take advantage, and small mistakes like these can have game-changing consequences. They almost did.
Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 340 yards and 1 touchdown. While the team scored 43 points, the quarterback only threw 1 touchdown pass. Even though Mahomes (Kansas City’s quarterback) threw 2 interceptions, he still finished the game with a higher rating than Brady. Why is this? Mainly because Mahomes threw more touchdown passes. New England really beat Kansas with their run game since Brady still can’t throw consistently. Brady could still be seen throwing passes at receivers’ ankles or behind them or over their heads. While he still had a great game (with no interceptions!) he doesn’t have the same efficiency as before.
After New England’s ultimate test of teamwork, they move on to play the Chicago Bears next Sunday. While they don’t pose as great a threat as the Chiefs undefeated record did, they’re still first in their conference. As long as the Patriots don’t let their guard down and play with the same vigor as seen against Kansas, another victory should be on the horizon.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen