Kansas City, MO. – The New England Patriots took home their second loss of the season, falling 26-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. The Patriots were without star quarterback Cam Newton who tested positive for the coronavirus late Friday. The Patriots stayed close to the Chiefs for most of the game despite not having Newton under center. Unfortunately, several errors by backup quarterback Brian Hoyer cost the Patriots much-needed points. The game was also not without controversy. Several questionable officiating decisions helped sink New England’s hopes of an upset road victory.
The biggest blunder by the officials came in the second quarter. The Patriots pass rush broke down the pocket and got to quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The ball was knocked loose by Deatrich Wise Jr. and flew into the hands of Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun began returning the ball for what would have likely been a touchdown when referee Tony Corrente blew the play dead. Corrente ruled Mahomes was in the grasp of the defender and forward progress had stopped before the fumble. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was unable to challenge the ruling as forward progress cannot be challenged. With no review, the Chiefs were allowed to punt, and the Patriots lost a golden opportunity to take the lead.
This loss was not all the officials’ fault, however. Expectations weren’t necessarily sky-high for Hoyer in his first start for the Patriots, but he didn’t even come close to reaching them. His early drives were underwhelming with several missed throws ending in punts. Down 6-0 late in the first quarter, Hoyer threw an ugly interception inside the Patriots 25-yard line.
Hoyer was bailed out by the Patriots defense when Stephon Gilmore punched the ball out of Sammy Watkins arms and JC Jackson recovered to start the second quarter. Hoyer managed to get his team into field goal range. Nick Folk drilled one through the uprights to cut the Chief’s lead to just three points. That was the last time Hoyer contributed to points on the board.
Hoyer drove the Patriots down the field again near the end of the first half. As time ran down, Belichick used all three timeouts. The Patriots were now in a position to run one more play from the Chiefs 13-yard line with 10 seconds remaining before the half. With no timeouts, Hoyer needed to either throw for a touchdown or an incompletion to stop the clock. Patriots fans have grown accustomed to their team being the best in the league when it comes to situational football. Apparently, Hoyer didn’t get the memo. Failing to find an open receiver Hoyer spun and retreated. The one thing he could not do was allow himself to be sacked – which he did. Hoyer quickly got to his feet and tried to call a timeout, which the Patriots did not have. Time expired and the Pats remained in a 6-3 deficit.
The quarterback mentioned postgame that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told him not to do anything that would waste time ahead of that final play. He understands that he wasn’t at his best and the play needs to be cleaned up should he be called upon in the future.
“You never want to get taken out of the game, but coach made the decision,” said Hoyer. “I understand just two bad decisions down in the red area cost us points. So, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. I’ve got to do a better job.”
The Patriots received the ball to start the second half. After the teams traded punts, Hoyer appeared to be redeeming himself. He was putting together several nice throws complimented by the run game and brought the offense down to the Kansas City five-yard line. Hoyer dropped back on third and goal. The Chiefs brought pressure and Taco Charlton strip-sacked Hoyer. Frustratingly, Charlton missed the ball on his first swipe, but Hoyer failed to realize he was in imminent danger of being sacked. Hoyer pumped the ball and kept only one hand on it as Charlton launched a two-handed tackle. Hoyer lost the ball and the Chiefs recovered. Hoyer had now cost the Patriots the chance to tie the game twice. He didn’t take another snap.
Patrick Mahomes finally got the Chiefs in the end zone near the end of the third quarter to take a 13-3 lead. When the Patriots offense took the field, it was with third-string quarterback Jarrett Stidham under center. Helped by a 41-yard Damien Harris run and a pass interference call in the end zone, Stidham threw his first NFL touchdown. On third-and-goal Stidham dropped back and found N’Keal Harry for six. There was a glimmer of hope that Stidham could lead the Patriots to an upset against the defending champs.
The officials and Mahomes had other plans, however. A questionable unnecessary roughness call left Patriots fans once again displeased with the officials. Mahomes did the rest helping the Chiefs find the end zone once again and take a 19-10 lead.
Needing a strong drive from Stidham, New England instead saw a pass go through Julian Edelman’s hands and returned for a touchdown by safety Tyrann Mathieu. Down 26-10 the Patriots now needed a miracle, instead they got another Stidham interception to seal the game for the Chiefs.
While the Patriots fell to 2-2 and many plays left a bitter taste in their mouth, it wasn’t all bad. Harris rushed for 112 yards and averaged 5.3 a carry in his first career game. The second-year running back out of Alabama was activated off injured reserve to replace the injured Sony Michel and fit right in. James White also looked good in his return to play. The defense also played well, holding a red-hot Chiefs offense to only 19 points.
The Patriots will hope to have Cam Newton back when they face the 1-3 Denver Broncos next Sunday afternoon for a 4:25 kickoff on CBS.