The New England Patriots lost their second straight game in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs, losing 23-16 after a wild second half that was filled with controversy.
This loss ended New England’s 21-game home winning streak, which is tied for the third longest streak in NFL History.
The Patriots were booed off the field by their home fans at halftime when they trailed 20-7 after scoring on their first drive and then failing to get anything going on offense afterward.
New England rallied in the second half, but were unable to score a game tying touchdown in the red zone at the end of the game, and weren’t helped by several crucial missed calls by the officials late in the game.
After the game, Tom Brady, New England’s quarterback, acknowledged that the mistakes from the officials did cost the team points, but they still missed many opportunities to score that they should have converted on.
“We still had a chance,” Brady said in reference to New England settling for a field goal after getting the ball on the three yard line after a missed non-touchdown call late in the fourth quarter. “(I) wish we could have scored there.”
Brady only passed for 169 yards in this game and he faced significant pressure in the pocket from Kansas City’s front seven all night, as the protection was not up to the Patriots’ normal standards.
A huge part of how Brady has been able to look younger than his age for so long on New England is their standard game plan that allows him to hardly ever get hit, by having good protection on the offensive line and emphasizing quick passes.
The Patriots failed to keep the pocket clean for Brady in this game, and this has been a problem much more frequently this season than it has been on New England as a norm.
It is also harder to establish the running game with the passing game struggling. James White was the leading rusher in this game with only six carries for 33 yards.
Julian Edelman had a good performance, as he hauled in eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, but all of New England’s other wide receivers struggled to get open throughout this game.
The addition of Mohamed Sanu hasn’t really paid off yet for the Patriots, as he was held to only one catch for 13 yards in this game and has failed to be a big part of their offense thus far.
However, this could easily change in the playoffs, and New England should definitely work toward getting him more involved in the offense moving forward.
No tight end has even come close to replacing Rob Gronkowski’s production this season either, and Brady surely misses having an elite tight end to look to when he needs a play at the end of a game, as Gronkowski was so often that player.
New England is used to playing their best football in December, but this isn’t the case right now.
However, they are still in good position to get a first round bye in the playoffs, and even though their offense was not impressive in this game, they fought back from a 23-7 deficit in the second half to make it a game and had an opportunity to tie it at the end.
“Those guys went and battled for 60 minutes,” Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ head coach, said. “It wasn’t always perfect. There were certainly things we could have done better. But we were competitive right down to the final play, and that’ll serve us well going forward.”
New England will likely meet some of the teams they have lost to in this regular season again in the postseason, with Baltimore being in a great position to capture the first seed and home field advantage, and Kansas City and Houston leading their respective divisions.
It would be hard to imagine this Patriots team going down without a fight this postseason, as they have won at least one playoff game in each of their last eight seasons.
If they can get better play out of their offensive line and run the ball more effectively, this will open up more opportunities for Brady and the passing game, and they can still be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs again.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].