After being held without a touchdown until just under a minute left in the third quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs found their stride on both sides of the football, thundering to a 26-10 victory over the Cam Newton-less New England Patriots.
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STORY OF THE GAME
It was a defensive battle for much of the contest, with the Chiefs holding a 6-3 lead entering halftime. The Patriots had an opportunity to kick a field goal just before the conclusion of the second quarter, but Brian Hoyer took an untimely and unnecessary sack from Frank Clark with no timeouts remaining.
Although his team got the win and churned out some big plays, Patrick Mahomes did not have his best night. He may have escaped with zero turnovers, but he threw two ill-advised passes that both could have been intercepted.
The New England secondary was able to stymie the Chiefs’ plethora of offensive weapons, forcing Mahomes to hold onto the ball for 3.59 seconds per dropback on average, his longest single-game mark this season and the second-longest single-game mark of his career.
Despite the long average time to throw, the Patriots were still unable to generate much pressure, recording pressure on just 15% of Mahomes' dropbacks. And as you'd expect, it was business as usual for the 2019 NFL MVP from those clean pockets, as he went on to connect on 16-of-22 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns when he was kept free from the New England rush.
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire did not reach the end zone in this one, but he still managed to gain 91 total yards on 19 touches. The Chiefs have yet to have a player eclipse 100 or more receiving yards in a game this season, and Travis Kelce led the way this week with 70 yards on three receptions. Tyreek Hill didn't pick up any field-stretching plays, though he did pick up three first downs, one touchdown and 64 yards across four catches.
To say that New England badly missed QB Cam Newton would be an understatement. Veteran signal-caller Brian Hoyer received the start in Newton's stead, but he was benched in the third quarter due to his horrendous play. Hoyer completed 15-of-24 passes for a measly 130 yards and one interception, and he even lost the ball on a strip-sack, capping off a performance that he'll want to forget in a hurry.
In came Jarrett Stidham, who drove his Patriots for a touchdown on his first drive, but things quickly fell apart shortly after. He finished the game with five completions from 13 attempts for one score and two interceptions, with one pick going back the other way for a Kansas City score.
One bright spot on the New England offense was Damien Harris, who saw his first game action of the season. He took his 17 handoffs for 100 yards, gashing the Chiefs defense on seemingly every carry. In the passing game, Damiere Byrd was the only player to top 40 receiving yards, hauling in five of his 10 targets for 80 yards and three first downs.
The New England defense was stellar in coverage for the most part, but one player unfortunately stuck out. Veteran Jonathan Jones migrated from his usual slot role to the perimeter tonight, and he struggled throughout, allowing eight receptions from 12 targets for 86 yards, one touchdown and four more first downs.
First-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (39), second-round linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (34) and undrafted free agent Tershawn Wharton (24) were the only Chiefs rookies who saw significant playing time tonight. Gay made the most of his limited playing time, making two strong tackles against the run, while Wharton was unable to make his presence known, generating zero pressures on the defensive line.
For the Patriots, both Michael Onwenu and Justin Herron received starts and stood up to the task. Onwenu allowed zero QB pressures on 34 snaps in pass protection and made key blocks in the run game from his right guard position. Herron allowed two pressures from right tackle — although one was a strip-sack — and he also played well as a run-blocker.
Kyle Dugger and Anfernee Jennings saw playing time for New England’s defense, though they weren't on the field much. Jennings generated two pressures on his only two pass-rush snaps of the night, and Dugger allowed two receptions and two first downs from two targets in coverage.