The Kansas City Chiefs were not on their A game on Monday.
They didn’t need to be.
A series of miscues and a big controversial call in favor of the Chiefs doomed the New England Patriots in a 26-10 Kansas City win.
The Patriots effectively slowed the Patrick Mahomes machine for most of the night, but couldn’t overcome a faulty offense of their own playing on a travel day without sidelined quarterback Cam Newton.
Pats struggle without Newton after chaotic week
New England placed Newton on the COVID-19 reserve list and had to wait until Monday to travel to Kansas City after positive coronavirus cases on both teams threatened this week’s game before it was ultimately postponed from Sunday to Monday.
Brian Hoyer got the start in Newton’s stead. After three quarters resulted in two turnovers, one inconceivable sack and three Patriots points, head coach Bill Belichick made the switch to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.
Stidham responded by delivering New England’s first touchdown of the night on a precise lob pass to N’Keal Harry in the back left corner of the end zone. But it wasn’t enough to overcome his two interceptions that were yet to come as the Chiefs capitalized on New England’s mistakes to improve to 4-0.
Chiefs were off, too
Mahomes looked human, completing 19 of 29 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas City didn’t score its first touchdown until Tyreek Hill carried a Mahomes shovel pass across the goal line with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
Mahomes threw a pair of ill-advised deep balls that hit the hands of Patriots defenders — one in the first quarter and another in the third. But New England didn’t capitalize on either opportunity, letting the potential interceptions drop to the ground as Mahomes remained without a turnover on the season.
On the other side, New England uncharacteristically turned the ball over four times. And it was too much to overcome.
Mistakes, bad break doom Patriots
Hoyer completed 15 of 24 passes for 130 yards with an interception and a lost fumble. The 11-year NFL veteran closed the first half by taking a sack in field-goal range as the clock ticked to halftime. He stood up attempting to call a timeout that the Patriots didn’t have. A field goal would have tied the game at 6-6.
A botched second-quarter call that should have resulted in a turnover made things worst for the Patriots. Mahomes lost the ball under pressure on a third-down blitz from the Patriots pass rush, and linebacker Shilique Calhoun picked it clean and made a beeline for the end zone.
But officials incorrectly ruled that Mahomes was down on the play before he lost the ball and whistled the play dead. Belichick was furious and immediately argued with officials. While Belichick protested the call, he declined to challenge the play, and the Chiefs quickly lined up to get off a punt.
After the game, Belichick said he didn’t challenge because he didn’t believe there was anything to challenge.
“He called forward progress that he’s down,” Belichick told reporters. “You can’t challenge that.”
Referee Tony Corrente agreed, telling reporters that Belichick couldn’t challenge the stoppage of forward progress.
When will Newton return?
New England can be forgiven for having an off night. Both teams were thrown off by the chaos of the COVID-impacted week. And the Patriots had to travel to Kansas City, play the Chiefs and fly home all on the same day. And they did it all without their starting quarterback.
But they did miss an opportunity provided by their defense, which stood stout against the Chiefs’ vaunted offense for much of the night. Instead of picking up an improbable win, the Patriots drop to 2-2.
And they return to New England uncertain about the status of Newton moving forward.
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