At New England
8:20 p.m. ET
43 degrees, clear
· This was an entertaining game between two of the best head coaches of this generation.
· NE gameplan of applying blitz pressure to QB Patrick Mahomes early in the game worked well; it was effective in helping build a 24-9 halftime lead as Mahomes threw a critical pick under pressure late in the first half.
· KC defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had a tough task in this game; he was playing shorthanded due to injuries, so he had to choose one option – either play coverage and let NE run the ball well or try to bring pressure but expose a shorthanded secondary. Even though KC gave up a lot of yards, the defense hung in just long enough to give KC a brief second-half lead and overcome a large halftime deficit.
· NE’s defense is a little talent-challenged, so the Chiefs were going to be a handful in any event. Early on, NE did an excellent job in the red zone, forcing KC to settle for three FGs. NE was keeping Mahomes in the pocket and not letting him get away with any broken plays. Mahomes did break through in the second half, though, with 67- and 75-yard TD passes.
· While Belichick is a renowned special teams guru, we do wonder what was going on with two decisions: After going ahead 10-3 and with first-quarter momentum, he chose a squib kick that allowed the Chiefs to start a drive on their own 45; KC went down quickly for a FG to cut the lead to 10-6. Then in the second half, even though his K Stephen Gostkowski can easily kick it out of the end zone, Gostkowski kicked it to just outside of the goal line … and KC kick returner Tremon Smith returned it all the way to the Pats’ 3-yard line. KC then punched it iin for a TD.
· NE not only has a FB (James Develin), we don’t think any team has their FB play as many snaps as NE (maybe SF’s Kyle Juszczyk). No other team lines up in I-formation as much either. Most teams feel they might be more explosive playing without one, but NE disproves that theory. Develin plays a lot of snaps and his presence gives the NE offense its versatility. He also was targeted twice Sunday night; in a game earlier this season, he was targeted three times.
· One interesting coaching call was made when NE blew a 24-9 lead and fell behind 33-30. KC had the momentum, and began having defensive success rushing only three and playing coverage. We wondered whether NE would stay patient and stick with their successful running game. NE did, and came right back with a TD to take the lead back at 37-33. This kind of patience is rare, and showed Belichick’s level of confidence in the ability of his offense to execute.
• We felt Reid burned his timeouts far too early in the fourth quarter (there was well over three minutes left to play). He knows his team has quick-strike capability, but for some reason he felt they needed to preserve more time. It actually ended up giving the Patriots the time they needed to drive for the game-winning field goal.