The Patriots defense kept the Chiefs out of the end zone enough to capture a 27-19 win at Arrowhead Stadium while Deion Branch returned to the field with 105 yards receiving and a touchdown on six receptions.
Corey Dillon ran hard with 98 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns.
"It's a tough place to come in here and play," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "I thought our players really did a good job of standing up to the adversity here, the hostile crowd and all that. They're very good; these people really support their team. Offensively I was really happy to see us move the ball and control it a little bit with some third down conversions. We got a big lift from [Deion] Branch and obviously Corey [Dillon] ran the ball pretty well. Defensively we were kind of scrambling around in the secondary, really from the second quarter on. That's the way it goes sometimes. Fortunately we were able to hang in there. I thought the two-point play was a big play, made it an eight-point game after Adam [Vinatieri's] field goal."
Despite scoring only 19 points, Chiefs quarterback Trent Green had 381 yards passing but threw a big interception in the end zone to Rodney Harrison at the end of the first half. He helped Johnnie Morton (5 catches for 107 yards), Eddie Kennison (3 for 99, 2 touchdowns) and Tony Gonzalez (7 for 86) to big games.
It was a spirited win over one of the league's top offenses with a still-green Patriots secondary. For the defense, Ty Warren had perhaps his best game as a Patriot with seven tackles, two sacks, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
The Chiefs defense welcomed the Patriots to Arrowhead Stadium with a sack of Brady on the very first play of the game. But on third and nine and with the Chiefs showing blitz on the right side of the Patriots line, Brady dropped back and lofted a little pass over the heads of the onrushing Chiefs and into the arms of Graham who rambled 27 yards to the Kansas City 38. Dillon took over from there, rushing four times, the last a 5-yard touchdown run around left tackle. Included in the drive was a 17-yard completion to Deion Branch who returned to action for the first time since the second week of the season.
A Ty Warren sack of Green thwarted the Chiefs first drive of the game. That 9-yard loss came two plays after Green connected with Tony Gonzales for 22-yards and Dante Hall had returned the Patriots kickoff 44 yards. After a 17-yard completion to Johnnie Morton put Kansas City 2 yards short of the first down marker, Lawrence Tynes came on for a 44-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
Kansas City made it 10-7 still in the first quarter with a 65-yard pass from Green to Eddie Kennison. On the play, Earthwind Moreland made a move on the ball too early as the ball sailed just over his outstretched hands to Kennison behind. It was an open field for the Chiefs receiver from that point.
To this point in the game it seemed the Patriots had an answer for Derrick Blaylock on the ground but were no match for the Chiefs passing game. That trend continued as the first quarter came to a close with Green completing passes to Kennison for 8 and Gonzalez for 15 to the Kansas City 38. A three yard run by Blaylock and a pass for a loss of one, however, set up a third and eight situation. Rosevelt Colvin got a hold of Green as the pocket collapsed and Green had no room to step up and the Chiefs were forced to punt for the first time in the game.
More good news followed as Brady heated up with passes to Branch for 17 and 14, and Troy Brown for 22 on the Patriots next drive. Down at the Chiefs 14, Dillon did all the work on four carries with the scoring run a 1-yarder behind right guard.
Eddie Kennison, who had Asante Samuel beat, just plain dropped a sure touchdown on the Chiefs next series and Kansas City wound up punting again. It looked like the Patriots might take the break and score seven when Brady hit Graham and the big tight end did the rest going 48 yards down the right sideline to the Chiefs 9. Despite the big play, New England had to settle for a Vinatieri 37-yard field goal after Dillon lost 5 yards and Matt Light was flagged for a false start.
The Chiefs were faced with a fourth and one decision as the first half hit the two minute warning. They were working from the Patriots 23 after Green hit Morton for 36 yards earlier in the drive and then Blaylock for 9.
Kansas City elected to go for the first down and the move paid off as Blaylock went up the middle for just enough. From there it sure looked like Kansas City would close to score to within at least four working first and goal from the nine but the Patriots red zone defense kicked in forcing two incompletes to create a third and goal. Green looked to the end zone and tried to force a pass into Gonzalez. Rodney Harrison had excellent position and stepped in front of the bullet for the interception. "I just was reading the quarterback and was able to get a break on the ball," Harrison said. "We knew that Tony Gonzalez was their number one guy in the red zone. I knew they were going for them. I made a break on the ball and was able to go for it."
Harrison's return went to the 5-yard line and New England was happy to take a knee and escape to the locker room with a 17-10 lead. Green was already at the 200-yard passing mark while Brady had 168 yards of his own.
It was the Patriots red zone defense stepping up yet again as the Chiefs opened the second half by driving to the Patriots 4-yard line converting a third and 13 and a third and 17 along the way with passes to Morton. Once at the 4, Blaylock was hit by Tedy Bruschi for a loss of 2 on third down and Kansas City could only come up with three points.
Holding the Chiefs to three points when they got close was one key if the Patriots were to win this one. Scoring as many points as possible was another against a weak Kansas City defense. That weakness was no more evident than when Brady hit David Patten for 46 yards on the Patriots next chance. It came on a third and seven from the Patriots 28 and flipped the field to the Chiefs 26. The next play was a simple dump off to Branch who weaved his way into the end zone with some excellent running after the catch.
"I had the opportunity to make several plays," Branch said. "I think everything worked out well today. It feels really good. We won, so that's the main thing."
That made the score 24-13, Patriots, and to borrow a phrase from another sport, essentially had the Patriots up a serve. Now, if they could simply keep pace with Green and his offense, the game would be theirs.
New England did better than that by forcing the Chiefs to punt with 1:42 left in the third quarter and then moving the ball to the Chiefs 5-yard line. Branch continued his big game with a 22-yard catch and Dillon ran well, that is until he fumbled at the 2-yard line on first and goal from the five. Greg Wesley of Kansas City forced the ball loose and Lionel Dalton recovered. Instead of the Patriots taking a huge lead, the Chiefs had life.
"I'm disgusted," Dillon said. "I'm still disgusted about that. I was just trying too hard, things happen. Immediately people were like, 'We need you to come through, run the ball hard and get us down there.' That's what I did. That's what I love about this team. They believe in me; I believe in them. We fight to the end for each other. That's a good thing and that's what I love about this place."
They made the most of it by going 97 yards in 11 plays. In the end, Kennison blew by Moreland for a 26-yard touchdown. Moreland may have thought he had help from Eugene Wilson but a good pump fake by Green froze the safety and Kennison was wide open in the end zone.
Down by five points, the Chiefs attempted a two-point conversion but failed.
After the kickoff, 6:07 was left to play. As long as the Patriots held serve by matching the score, all would be good.
Four minutes later, New England was in position to do just that with a second and 12 from the Chiefs 15. Brady had kept on a third and one from the Chiefs 27 with a 3-yard gain to keep the drive going and the clock ticking. He was also good on passes to Fauria (14 yards) and Branch (9) while Dillon chugged along with six carries. The 11-yard line was as far as New England could get and Vinatieri kicked his second field goal of the game, a 28-yarder.
With 1:46 left to play, the Chiefs were down by eight and receiving the New England kickoff.
Hall took the kick 19 yards to the 32-yard line. Green went for a bunch on first down with a bomb to Kennison that fell incomplete with Samuel in coverage. Blaylock dropped an outlet pass on second down. On third, Green looked to Hall with a short pass for a gain of four. On fourth and six, Green dropped back with the Patriots defense flooding all zones. Willie McGinest broke free and sacked Green and that was the ballgame.