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Chiefs vs. Patriots: 12 Observations

Posted Sep 8, 2017

Here’s what stood out Thursday night in Foxboro

It was a great night for Chiefs Kingdom.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the New England Patriots by a score of 42-27 Thursday night in Foxboro in the opening game of the 2017 NFL season.

Here are 12 observations from the game:

1. The Chiefs were dominant on both sides of the ball

The offense was explosive, and the defense was solid and stout in the biggest of moments.

The Chiefs’ offense finished with 537 total yards, and the 42 points they scored were the most ever against a Patriots’ team led by head coach Bill Belichick.

The defense held Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, whose career record at home fell to 101-18 with the loss, to just 16 of 36 for 267 yards.

For the defense, the two biggest plays on the night came in the form of fourth-down stops.

On two separate occasions and when they were within field goal distance, the Patriots decided to go for it on fourth-and-short with runs up the middle, and on both occasions, the Chiefs’ defense stepped up and shut it down.

On the night, the Patriots averaged just 3.5 yards per rush, while the Chiefs averaged 6.9.

2. Alex Smith had a night to remember

It was undoubtedly one of the best games of Alex Smith’s career.

And considering all the things happening around the game—the fact that it the nationally-televised NFL opener with the Patriots hanging their fifth Super Bowl banner as part of a huge pregame presentation, the moment was perfect for Smith to step up and show the whole country what he’s about.

Smith finished 28 of 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns, which was good for a passer rating of 148.6.

On this night, Smith outplayed a future Hall of Famer. It was that kind of night.

Early in the fourth quarter and with the Chiefs trailing 27-21, Smith found rookie running back Kareem Hunt deep down the middle of the field for a 78-yard touchdown.

Hunt was able to outrace a few Patriots’ defensive backs to find the end zone.

It capped off the Chiefs’ third touchdown drive of at least 90 yards on the night. Coming into the game, the Patriots hadn’t allowed a 90-yard touchdown drive in four years.

Early in the game, Smith silenced a raucous crowd at Gillette Stadium Thursday night on one nice pass deep down the right sideline.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game that Tyreek Hill came to him and told him the play (and route) would work. And it did.

With a little double-move to the outside, Hill broke free down the right sideline and Smith hit him perfectly in stride for a 75-yard touchdown, which gave the Chiefs a 21-17 lead midway through the third quarter.

It’s the kind of play that Smith and Hill had been showing off at training camp, and it transferred over to the field in the biggest of moments.

According to Randall Liu, the NFL’s Senior Director of Football Communications, Hill has now scored on touchdowns of 65-plus yards in five consecutive regular-season games.

After that score—the 11th of his career—Hill is now averaging 47 yards per play on his touchdowns. He finished Thursday’s game with seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown.

3. Chiefs had their backs against the wall early, and Hunt bounced back in a big way

The Patriots’ opening drive went 73 yards on nine plays and culminated with a two-yard rushing touchdown from Mike Gillislee.

It gave the Patriots a quick 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

On the Chiefs’ ensuing offensive drive, the first play resulted in a fumble after a seven-yard gain from Hunt. He had only fumbled once in his college career, and he fumbled on the first play of his NFL career.

But Hunt’s night would be remembered for much more. He finished with 17 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown, and five receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

The 246 yards from scrimmage from Hunt was the most ever for a player in his NFL debut.

4. Ron Parker, Eric Berry and Bennie Logan step up for the defense

After the fumble from Hunt, the Chiefs’ defense was put to the test again, quickly.

Already trailing 7-0 and with the Patriots getting the ball at the Chiefs’ 32-yard line, the defense had to step up to keep this game close early in the first quarter.

Hunt said after the game that some of the defensive players came over to him after the fumble and told him they’d pick him up, and they did.

On a third-down pass across the middle to Danny Amendola, veteran safety Ron Parker came up and made a great open-field tackle to keep Amendola short of the first down.

Parker, who was questionable coming into the game with an ankle injury, finished with a team-high 11 tackles on the night.

The Patriots then decided to go for it on fourth down, and Bennie Logan, Eric Berry and company helped stuff the run up the middle. It was a momentum-changing play.

That defensive stand looked to settle down the Chiefs after a first five minutes that completely went the Patriots’ way.

5. Smith and the Chiefs’ offense responded

After the defense had a big stand on fourth down, the offense settled down and responded by driving 90 yards on 12 plays in just over six minutes—culminating with a Smith 7-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal to tight end Demetrius Harris.

Harris, who was lined up out to the right, did a little spin move at the goal line and used his 6-foot-7 frame to give Smith a target.

Smith was 7 of 8 for 66 yards on the drive, which tied the game, 7-7.

It’s also worth noting that tight end Travis Kelce had a key first-down run on a play in which he was lined up at quarterback and faked a pitch to the outside. It went for four yards.

There were several plays and formations on the night that showed the creativity Reid is known for with his offenses.

6. Patriots grab a two-possession lead in the first half

Midway through the second quarter, the Patriots took a two-possession lead on running back Mike Gillislee’s second touchdown of the night—a two-yard rush up the middle.

The run capped off an 11-play, 82-yard drive that took just under six minutes off the clock. It gave the Patriots a 17-7 lead with 7:27 left in the first half.

The Chiefs would then out-score the Patriots in the second half, 28-10.

7. The Chiefs’ offense thrives in two-minute situation to close out the first half

With just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Smith led the Chiefs’ offense 92 yards down the field in 12 plays.

The drive culminated with a two-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Hunt.

Earlier on the drive, Smith found Tyreek Hill twice on third down conversions, one of which went for eight yards, and the other for 12.

It was the second Chiefs’ touchdown drive in the first half that went for at least 90 yards.

Smith finished the first half 16 of 19 for 128 yards and two touchdowns.

8. Cornerback Marcus Peters was not targeted in the first half

The guy who leads the NFL in interceptions over the past two seasons wasn’t targeted much in the game, and not at all in the first half.

9. Dustin Colquitt took a couple of shots in the second half

Late in the third quarter and with the Chiefs backed up in their own territory, Dustin Colquitt was ran into twice on consecutive punts, which resulted in only five-yard penalties, and then nailed a 59-yarder to flip the field position for the Chiefs.

It looked as though the second one could have been called for the 15-yard variety, but nonetheless, Colquitt’s punt helped give the Chiefs’ defense some more breathing room.

The Patriots ended up kicking a field goal and taking a 27-21 lead with nine seconds remaining in the third quarter.

10. Eric Berry taken off the field on a cart

With a little less than five minutes remaining in the game, veteran All-Pro safety Eric Berry was taken off the field on a cart after laying on the field for a while talking with trainers.

After the game, Reid said it’s not good news and that it’s a potential Achilles tear for Berry.

11. We told you Justin Houston is healthy

It’s been a storyline all offseason, but Justin Houston showed a little bit of everything Thursday night.

In the first half, Houston made several nice plays in run defense, and in the second half, Houston had a huge hit on Patriots’ receiver Danny Amendola on a crossing route, and then picked up two sacks on Brady to help close out the victory.

Houston, who is inarguably one of the NFL’s elite defensive players when healthy, finished with five tackles, two sacks, and four quarterback hits.

After the game, Houston said he made a lot of mistakes and needs to be better. It’ll be interesting to see what “better” looks like when he gets there.

12. Charcandrick West sealed the victory

Thanks to some great blocking up front, particularly one from center Mitch Morse, running back Charcandrick West made his one carry of the night memorable.

West scampered 21 yards up the middle for a touchdown that gave the Chiefs a 42-27 lead with just four minutes remaining in the game.

It ultimately sealed the impressive and dominant win for the Chiefs.

What began as a loud party atmosphere in Foxboro with all the pregame festivities, which included a live performance from Flo-Rida and an appearance from Mark Wahlberg and several former Patriots’ greats as the fifth Super Bowl banner was unveiled, ended with fans quietly leaving the stadium early.

It was a beautiful sight for those Chiefs fans in attendance who had “the chop” going as the clock hit zero.

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