Ryan L. Fox
It was a game that everybody in New England circled around the calendar. Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs came into Foxborough and stunned the Patriots 23-16 on their home turf. That loss proved fatal as each team finished the 2019 NFL Season with identical records (12-4). But because of that loss, the Patriots got bumped down to the 4th AFC Playoff spot and the rest is history.
Now in the early part of the 2020 season, the two teams met in a Week 4 showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. However the Patriots were without star QB Cam Newton, who ended up testing positive for COVID-19 during testing prior to the Patriots leaving for Kansas City.
Originally slated for Sunday at 4:25 p.m., the game got moved to Monday night after both teams were cleared to play by the NFL. But without their star QB and arguably the team’s most vital player, the game was an uphill battle before the first snap.
The Chiefs took the opening kickoff and simply marched down the field on the Patriots defense. However instead of an opening drive touchdown, they had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by K Harrison Butker to take the first lead of the game, 3-0 with 10:08 left in the 1st quarter.
Butker then added a second field goal late in the quarter, this time from 39-yards out, to give the Chiefs a 6-0 lead with just 13 seconds left .
The Chiefs had a golden opportunity for another chance for a score as CB Juan Thornhill picked off an errand pass by Pats QB Brian Hoyer and returned it to the New England 23. But Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore punched the ball out of Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins on a 2nd down play as teammate CB J.C. Jackson recovered the ball on the New England 15.
The Patriots then was able to drive down the field, only to settle for a 43-yard field goal by K Nick Folk to make it 6-3 with 9:31 left in the 2nd quarter.
The Patriots had one more chance for another score to close out the half as they had the ball deep in Kansas City territory. Unfortunately, Hoyer was sacked for a major loss as time expired.
The offensive woes continued to plague the Patriots offense in the 3rd quarter.
After going 3 and out on their first possession of the quarter, they got the ball back on their own 16. Hoyer was able to get the offense going as they drove the field. But on a 3rd and 8 on the Kansas City 10, Hoyer was sacked by Chiefs DE Taco Charlton and had the ball stripped. Chiefs LB Ben Niemann recovered the ball on the Kansas City 15.
The Chiefs turned that Patriot turnover into points.
Mahomes bombed the Patriots defense with deep throws while keeping them on their toes rushing for first downs on that drive. The Chiefs got all the way down to the New England 6 where Mahomes dumped a short pass to WR Tyreek Hill, who took it into the endzone for the score. Butker booted the PAT through to make it 13-3 with 42 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
After the Patriots got the ball back, the Patriots made a quarterback change.
They yanked Hoyer in favor of the 3rd-string QB Jarrett Stidham, seeing what the 2nd-year man out of Auburn could do. However, it was the Damien Harris drive as the 2nd-year running back carried the team down the field down to the Kansas City 4. There, Stidham found WR N’Keal Harry for the short touchdown pass. Folk booted the PAT through to make it 13-10 with 13:45 left in the game.
The Chiefs responded with a nice drive of their own, capped off with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to WR Necole Hardman. Unfortunately, Butker botched the PAT wide left as the score was 19-10 with less than 9 minutes (8:57 to be exact) left in the game.
Then on the ensuing Patriots drive, Stidham tried to find WR Julian Edelman in the flat. The ball ended up bouncing off Edelman’s hands and into the waiting arms of Chiefs FS Tyrann Mathieu for a pick 6. Butker made the PAT this time around to make it 26-10 with 8:48 left in the game.
The Patriots tried to answer back the sudden Chiefs scoring output.
However on one possession, Stidham ended up throwing his 2nd interception of the game to Chiefs CB Rashad Fenton, who brought it back to the Kansas City 33.
Then on the final Patriots’ possession, Stidham opened up with a 40-yard throw from his own 20 and into Kansas City territory. But the Chiefs defense made one last stand, forcing a turnover on downs by the Patriots.
Mahomes simply kneeled 3 times to run the last minute and a half off the clock, giving the Chiefs the 26-10 lead.
Although the Patriots tried their best to hang around with the defending Super Bowl Champs, it was clear that they could not match the Chiefs in offensive firepower nor scoring quickness.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
RB Damien Harris - 17 carries for 100 yards (5.9 ypc)
WR Damiere Byrd – 5 catches (on 10 targets) for 80 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – 6 tackles (3 solo, 3 assists) and 1
DE Chase Winovich –4 tackles (2 solo, 2 assists) and 1.0 sacks
CB J.C. Jackson – 2 tackles (2 solo, 0 assists), 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass defended
CB Stephon Gilmore – 3 tackles (3 solo, 0 assists) and 1 forced fumble
Cam and COVID
If there was a ‘worst-case scenario’ for the New England Patriots in 2020, they are currently in one of those right now.
This past Saturday, news broke that Patriots star QB Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. Because of that, he had to be placed on the COVID-19/injured reserve list and had to miss the game against the Chiefs (and possibly next week’s home match-up against the Denver Broncos). This also caused what would have been a 4:25 p.m. EST Sunday game to be pushed to a 7:05 p.m. EST Monday night game where, ultimately, the Patriots suffered an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now the first $1 million question that is on Patriot Nation: how and where did Cam get COVID?
Well it’s…well…uh....It doesn’t help the resurgent former Panthers QB's in this scenario.
It has come out that between the Patriots' Week 3 victory over the Raiders and their Week 4 match-up with the Chiefs that there are photos on social media of Cam Newton doing...well...Cam Newton things. This includes clothes shopping in Boston as well as interacting with Pats fans, some of them not wearing and masks. It also doesn't help that Cam pretty much flies to and from Boston to his home to visit family almost every day of the week.
Now I'm no Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Clouseau or even an Inspector Zengata, but I would probably guess that the more likely scenario is that Cam contracted COVID-19 away from the Patriots' facilities (no other player, coach, or staff member tested positive). It's more probable than not he came into contact with somebody who unknowingly was a carrier of COVID-19 either while he was shopping in Boston or in between his flights to and from Georgia.
Now for the daily double: what is the NFL going to do about it?
Well the NFL has done somethings already.
They’ve tested all the New England players, coaches, and staff and were able to get the results back (all negative). They tested the Kansas City Chiefs players, coaches, and staff and came up with just one positive test (a practice squad QB). They’ve also moved the game from Sunday to Monday night (as mentioned earlier) to give the teams time to get their test results to see who can travel or who has to quarantine.
There were also reports that came out that the NFL is going to launch an investigation into the matter. But before you get your pitchforks, Brady jerseys, and Hurley Twitter screenshots, hear me out.
More likely than not, the NFL investigation is just going to be, more likely than not, just a means of covering their asses and doing diligence. They had a rampant COVID outbreak down with the Tennessee Titans (16 positive cases) and now one of their top star QBs (yes...yes Cam is considered a top star QB in the league right now) tested positive for COVID. And the Patriots will comply this time around (shocker) so there's no need to feel like you gotta 'defend the wall' on this one folks.
With all the precautions that the NFL took to prevent any sort of COVID-19 outbreak on a team or to one of their star player, sooner or later it was going to happen. It’s just unfortunate that it happened to the Patriots’ best player and one of the top stars in the league right now. It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks for the team but it could be worse. For now, the only thing Cam can do is just self-quarantine until he is medically able to rejoin the team and the only thing the Pats can do is roll with back-up QB Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham....and I just threw up in my mouth after typing that.
The Game Changer
Oh boy…this is gonna be flooding the Sports Hub for the next few days. What I am referring to is pretty much the turnover that wasn’t.
Quick recap of that play.
On a 3rd and 4 from the Kansas City 42, Mahomes dropped back for a pass. He felt the pass rush get to him as he ended up getting wrapped up and sacked by Patriots DE Chase Winovich. As he was going down, the ball clearly was coming out of Mahomes hands and into the arms of Patriots LB/Edge Shalique Calhoun for what appeared to be an interception.
Except it wasn’t.
What would have been an interception, the play was blown dead by the refs when Mahomes was being wrestled to the ground by Winovich. What would have been a key turnover and perhaps a momentum swing just became a 7-yard sack.
When asked by reporters what had happened, referee Tony Corrente gave the following explanation below courtesy of WBZ TV:
In short, it was a judgement call by the refs to protect the safety of Patrick Mahomes before he got knocked into Week 5.
I’m not the biggest Patriot honk but it was clear that the ball was coming out before Mahomes touched the ground. If it was any other QB in the league, that would have been ruled as an interception or at least a fumble. Granted it happened on 3rd down and the Chiefs were forced to punt but if it played out accordingly, we could possibly be talking at least a pick 6 or at least Patriot ball deep in Kansas City territory. Given that the score was 6-3 at the time, it definitely could have had an impact on the outcome.
Oh well. Too bad, so sad.
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
7 - The number of different teams that Pats QB Brian Hoyer has played for, tying former NFL QBs Chris Chandler and Gus Frerotte for 2nd most all-time behind QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (8)
9 – The amount of time in between the Chiefs’ 2nd (Mahomes 6-yard TD pass to Hardman) and 3rd touchdown (FS Tyrone Mathieu pick 6) in the 4th quarter
9 - The number turnovers by Pats QB Brian Hoyer in 3 career games (2 regular season, 1 post season) against the Kansas City Chiefs
3 -The number of times the Kansas City Chiefs have failed to score a touchdown in the first half of a game since Patrick Mahomes became the starting QB (since 2017)
91 – The difference of rushing yards between the Patriots (185) and the Chiefs (94)
.500 – The winning percentage of Chiefs HC Andy Reid versus Bill Belichick in regular season match-ups (0-3 with the Philadelphia Eagles and 4-1 with the Kansas City Chiefs)
330 – The number of career receptions for Patriots RB James White, putting him 10th all-time in franchise history
Fox Fist Bump
This week’s Fox Fist Bump goes to RB Damien Harris.
He was pretty much the only Patriot that really showed up to play.
Coming off missing the first 3 weeks of the season due to a hand injury, Harris gave Patriots fans something positive to take away from this loss. Against the Chiefs, he gashed their defense to the tune of 100 yards on 17 carries. So out of the total 185 rushing yards against the Chiefs, Harris accounted for approximately 54% of the teams
Yeah yeah, I know that the Chiefs rank in the bottom 5 for rushing defense. But you gotta be dumb to not to exploit that weakness with your greatest offensive strength right now.'
Seems like Harris’ arrival is just what the Patriots needed considering that they lost RB Sony Michel to the IR list for a while due to a quad injury.
The Meatball of the Game
Well this week’s Meatball of the Game goes to none other than Brian Hoyer.
Oh boy, where do I begin?
How about his inability to throw a completion over 20-yards down the field? Or the fact that one of the few times he actually tried to do that, he got picked off because he threw it to a covered man. Or how about his lack of situational awareness like on the final drive of the 1st half where he took a sack instead of throwing the ball out of bounds and then try to call a timeout when the Patriots had no timeouts left. Or his inability to hold onto the football like in the 3rd quarter that lead to a Chiefs touchdown.
And the fact he got benched for Jarrett Stidham, a guy who was inactive for the first 3 games of the season, pretty much says it all.
I can’t believe there were some people out there that thought that Hoyer would win the starting QB job this year. Wow, unbelievable.
Play of the Game
Honey Badger Time
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