I am not a silver linings type of guy, as I said yesterday there are no moral victories in the National Football League. Yes, the Patriots lost 26-10 to the Chiefs last night, BUT there are some things to build on here for a team that was not playing with a full deck.
The Patriots defense was masterful for much of the night (except for 2 dropped picks) holding the Chiefs to their lowest offensive yards total all season, just a week after they dropped 517 yards and 34 points on the Ravens. Patrick Mahomes was held to 236 yards and 2 TDs (both of which were about 2 foot tosses). The Pats also stifled Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs running game all day, holding CEH to just 64 yards on 20 carries. Travis Kelce only had 3 catches for 70 yards on the night, but killed the Pats on a 45 yard reception late in the game.
RIP to the Brian Hoyer Era
The Brian Hoyer era lasted a grand total of 44 minutes.
Hoyer killed the Patriots with rookie mistakes all night long before mercifully getting benched by Belichick. I am normally a pretty calm guy watching the game and scrolling twitter in between plays, but I literally YELLED at my TV when Hoyer took that sack to end the first half and cost the Pats a field goal.
With no timeouts left and in FG position, Brian Hoyer takes a sack. That’s how the first half ends. Yikes.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 6, 2020
You can argue that the team was too cavalier with their timeouts, but thats because they had a guy in his 12th year in the NFL under center. He should know better so that was infuriating to watch. Hoyer only made it worse later in the game when a pass rusher blew by him and instead of immediately getting the ball out, he patted the ball somehow thinking the defender was gone. Nope, that guy immediately peeled back and forced the fumble on Hoyer who for some god forsaken reason still had the ball in his hands. Hoyer’s Awareness rating in Madden must have taken a nosedive after this performance.
In came Jarret Stidham, who the Pats finally reached their breaking point and relented on letting him play after Stid had the gall to go to a wedding over the summer. All it took was less than 3 quarters of watching Brian Hoyer playing for Belichick to pull the plug on that experiment. Physically Stidham looked pretty good as he chucked the ball around with ease. He made the typical mistakes of a young QB, but he also had some alarmingly bad throws with 3 picks (1 of which was called back). I don’t know if thats an accuracy issue or a decision making issue, but one of his interceptions was on an underthrown ball in the face of pressure. If he just steps up in the pocket to avoid the rush, this is a TD.
He did hit N’Keal Harry with a pretty touch pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on his first career completion though so that was nice to see.
“Don’t play with me” 👀— Patrick Djordjevic (@patdjordjevic) October 6, 2020
Nkeal Harry ain’t no bustpic.twitter.com/QCX0XejTcu
Harry was a huge disappointment last year for various reasons, but it seems the experience of being in Year 2 combined with the power of positive reinforcement from Cam Newton hyping him up has paid huge dividends. Ironic, considering one of Tom Brady’s best friends is Tony Robbins, the de facto king of positive thinking, but it takes Cam Newton to bring it out of Harry.
The Pats were uncharacteristcally sloppy, turning the ball over four times compared to just once by the Chiefs. You’re rarely going to win a game when you lose the turnover battle, you are never going to win a game against the Chiefs when you spot them points.
Young Guys Shine
Chase Winovich has officially arrived this season and particularly in this game as he was wrecking havoc and hurrying Mahomes all night long. Very encouraging to see for a team that is desperate for some pass rushers after all the players that either left via free agency or opted out this season.
Damiere Byrd looked like a legit NFL receiver yet again with five catches for 80 yards, but he also saw 10 targets so the QBs (not just Cam Newton) seem to trust him to make plays.
Damien Harris FINALLY stepped onto the field and he did not disappoint, racking up 100 yards in his first significant NFL game action. Harris only had 4 touches all of last season and was a scratch most weeks so I have been dying to see the former Alabama back get some significant work. With Sony Michel back on IR this is Harris’ time to shine and I think he probably takes the RB1 job for good. Granted the Pats routinely roll out multiple runningbacks on any given week, but I think Harris is the locked in bellcow back moving forward if he stays healthy.
Kyle Dugger looked great and his athleticism was apparent as he made some touch tackles, which impressed me the most considering the Patriots’ top pick was essentially playing Division II football last year.
Get Well Soon Cam
The Patriots showed they can hang with the class of the league if they play their best football, which they did for large shares of the night. Their QB play is what ultimately sunk them, but if these two teams meet again later this season it would be with Newton under center who obviously turns the Patriots offense into a completely different beast.
Jules had the dropsies last night, including a pass deflected off his hands that turned into a walk-in pick six for the Chiefs.
Julian Edelman led the NFL in drops last season. This is now his fifth this season, and the most costly one… pic.twitter.com/dT3B2WtuW1— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 6, 2020
It’s tough to see Edelman drop more and more balls as he gets up there because he has been so money for so long for this Patriots team. It’s something to keep an eye on. He is far from washed, as we saw in the Seattle matchup when Edelman had one of the best games of his entire career with Newton slinging him the ball. But it makes sense for the Pats to not have their entire offense depend on a 34-year-old receiver.
Although Edelman’s potential heir to the New England Slot only had one catch last night, Gunner Olszewski sure as shit made it count with this one.
Give Me a Break
Looot of breaks went the Chiefs way last night and the Pats were still hanging around for most of the game. By far the worst was the fumble return that was whistled dead WAY too quickly and ultimately ruled a sack.
Very quick whistle for the Chiefs. Play ruled a sack. Should have been a fumble recovery or INT for the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/6hhQkM8UOY— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 6, 2020
The clear strip and fumble return was blown dead by the refs who said they thought Mahomes was “in the grasp” of defenders.
Patriots had a tough call go against them when a would-be INT was ruled a sack by referee Tony Corrente. The call was explained by Corrente after the game (https://t.co/hFVYPZZW1k). Before moving on, I wanted to follow up with a few thoughts: pic.twitter.com/qXy5n6RW8h— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 6, 2020
Now I understand the irony of a Patriots fan complaining about a quarterback sack not being called a fumble, but that call was horrific. Total hose job.
There was also the Chiefs punt returner somehow not touching that bouncing ball a la Edelman in the AFC Championship, and the brutal roughing the passer call on Mahomes who should have won an Oscar on the play.
Overall this team looked pretty good playing the defending SB champs with their 2nd and 3rd string quarterback after commuting to Kansas City the day of the game. They showed they can hang with the best of them so I look forward to seeing this team back at full strength. The Pats are now 2-2 and 2 games back in the AFC East though trailing the Bills who look legit behind sudden MVP candidate Josh Allen. I knew the Bills would be good this year, but I did not expect this type of jump from Allen so kudos to them. The race for the AFC East crown is on now.