Tom Brady and the Patriots were crushed Monday night. (Getty Images)
In one of the worst losses of the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots were dominated on both sides of the ball Monday night in Kansas City, as the Chiefs crushed New England, 41-14.
On defense, the Patriots provided little resistance against Alex Smith and the Chiefs — the Kansas City quarterback had few issues shredding the New England defense. Over the first two quarters (the only sequence of the game where the score was in doubt), the Patriots were gashed for 303 yards, including, 131 rushing yards on 17 carries (7.7 yards per carry). Smith ended 20-for-26 for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, New England was unable to generate any sort of offensive consistency, as Tom Brady was yanked in the fourth quarter after going 14-for-23 for 159 yards with one touchdown and a pair of picks. Brandon LaFell was the only offensive skill position player who was worth mentioning on the night, and he ended with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s what we learned about the Patriots Monday night.
– Tom Brady deserves all the criticism he will receive for this one.
You could blame some of the other hideous performances over last couple of years on new receivers, offensive line or bad matchups. On Monday against the Chiefs, he was pretty brutal with some bad throws, delivering one pick right into the hands of Kansas City Sean Smith early in the second half and throwing another ugly pick in the fourth quarter straight down the middle of the field — his final throw of the night. The picks were the first of the year for Brady, who was also strip-sacked by Tamba Hali in the second half.
– This offensive line combination isn’t much better than what we saw through the first three games.
The Patriots shuffled things up up front going into the game, moving rookie Bryan Stork into the starting role at center and doing some work at other spots in the interior. While the Patriots appeared to get some good work in pass protection, there was not much good about the rest of the performance. Tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder were in and out of the game throughout the night, and the Patriots did the same along the interior.
– Logan Ryan has had better nights.
It’s probably unfair to pick on the second-year cornerback out of Rutgers, but he pretty much exemplifies the struggles of the young defensive backs. At first glance (and it needs to be looked at again on film), it looked like the Chiefs picked on Ryan throughout the first half. It wasn’t coincidental that he was yanked in favor of rookie Malcolm Butler. At the end of the first half, he took his fifth penalty of the season (tops on the team) that led to a Chiefs field goal. This week, the Patriots are expected to welcome back — expect a serious dip in playing time for Ryan as a result.
– It’s easy to run at Chandler Jones.
The defensive end had a good start with a nice sack of Smith on the first series, but the Syracuse product disappeared for most of the rest of the evening. The Chiefs appeared to have good success running at him for much of the night. It’s probably unfair to pick on Jones, as he was just one of a collective group of defensive line who were blown off the ball for much of the evening.
– There are some real hard questions looming for Josh McDaniels.
The Patriots decided to go into the game with just four wide receivers after decided that Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins should both be a healthy scratch. With five backs (including James Develin) against one of the softest run defenses in the league, New England came out wide and started to throw the ball. The play-calling was certainly suspect at best in the early going — the decision not to go for in on 4th and 2 at midfield twice in the first half with the game still in doubt was a missed opportunity to make a statement. The fact that the Patriots fell behind early turned them into a one-dimensional team that was incapable of developing any sort of offensive rhythm.
– The punt team was maybe the best and most consistent unit all night.
Matt Slater had a pair of really nice open field tackles (one in the first half and one in the second half), and punter Ryan Allen did more than enough to tilt the field for the Patriots throughout the evening. Problem was it really didn’t do much for the New England defense, who failed to provide much resistance all night.
– Brandon LaFell had his moment Monday evening.
In the best game of his New England career to this point, the former Panthers wideout ended up with a 14-yard pickup in the first half, and a 44-yard touchdown catch that featured a nice display of yards after catch at the end of the play to make it 27-7 late in the third quarter. (The first second-half touchdown of the year for the Patriots.) The receiver was the only one who showed himself to be a dependable target throughout the contest, and despite the fact that he was ineffective as a pass catcher for the first three games, had a nice outing against the Chiefs.
– There was a certain amount of deja vu.
The 2013 Patriots were able to make their bones as a mentally tough team that routinely bounced back after rough starts, including coming back from a 21-point deficit in a dramatic regular-season win over the Broncos. There was none of that fight from New England Monday against the Chiefs, a embarrassing loss that sparked memories of the 2009 road trip that included shameful back-to-back losses at New Orleans and Miami, a double-dip that provoked quarterback Tom Brady to offer the ultimate indictment of that year’s team following the loss in Miami: ‘When things don’t go your way you have to fight back — that’s a challenge for all of us,’ Brady said after that defeat. ‘I think at times we do. And at times I don’t think we fight very hard.” That’s not too far removed from where we are at this point.
– There will be a lot of come-to-Jesus talks this week around Foxboro.
The 2013 Patriots made their bones with gut-check performances in the second half throughout the season, distinguishing themselves as one of the more mentally tough teams of the Bill Belichick era. There was none of that Monday night in Kansas City, as New England dug a sizable hole in the first half and never managed to fight its way out. Things get no easier for the Patriots this week, as they face the 3-0 Bengals this weekend at Gillette Stadium. A short week will provide no comfort for this team, which will be tested again by Cincinnati.