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Game Observations: Chiefs pull away late from feisty Patriots

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After losing their starting quarterback to a COVID-19 diagnosis and seeing their game pushed to the following day, the Patriots put up an impressive fight in Kansas City, but saw the Chiefs find their high gear and pull away late to seal a 26-10 victory.

The team travelled on Monday morning, but still showed good execution in holding the vaunted Chiefs offense to just six points at halftime. But Kansas City would find their stride in the third quarter, putting up back-to-back quick-scoring touchdown drives, then grabbing a pick six to suddenly put the game out of reach for New England's offense, who did themselves few favors over the course of the game with some untimely mistakes and bad situational football.

Now 2-2, the Patriots return home for a quick turnaround to face the Broncos, while still facing questions about the health of their quarterback and team. But they again showed good competitiveness, showed some impressive individual performances, especially on defense, and the ability to contain an offense that many have struggled to slow down at all.

Here's everything that stood out from a disappointing but not surprising Patriots loss.

- Despite opening up the game with an impressive drive, the Chiefs would fail to finish it off, as the Patriots defense came through with an impressive red zone stop. It was an 11-play, 70-yard drive that took almost five minutes, but also saw Devin McCourty just miss out on starting the game with an interception like he did against Seattle in Week 2.

- With Shaq Mason out, the Patriots juggled their offensive line and inserted James Ferentz at center while sliding Joe Thuney back to his usual spot at left guard, with rookie Michael Onwenu moving over to right guard. More surprising was Justin Herron getting the start at right tackle over veteran Jermaine Eluemunor, who reportedly was hampered by migraine headaches before the game. The two rookie offensive linemen have been thrown into the fire early on this season.

- The teams would trade three-and-outs with Patrick Mahomes' deep pass to Tyreek Hill being just out of range with Jonathan Jones in coverage on an impressive third-down stop. The Patriots defense was mixing coverages early on, including an eight defensive back package. Shilique Calhoun stood out with a physical hit on tight end Travis Kelce that helped set a good tone for the defense.

- The Patriots second drive would last just five plays, though an impressive end-around to Isaiah Zuber, his second such play in two weeks, picked up eight yards and he showed some good burst. Damien Harris was inserted into the lineup and would pick up nine yards on his first three carries.

- The Chiefs would again have success moving the ball on their third possession but the Patriots would bend-not-break for the second time on the night. KC moved off their four-yard-line with some big plays of 14, 21 and 24 yards before a false start moved them back five yards and ultimately helped stall them out. Through one quarter the Patriots defense did a good job containing the Chiefs offense, holding them to just six points.

- Hoyer would misfire off play action on the first play of the Patriots next drive, targeting tight end Ryan Izzo but overshooting him and watching as the pass was picked off by Juan Thornhill. But the Patriots defense would pick them up just two plays later, with Stephon Gilmore punching out a fumble and J.C. Jackson recovering his second fumble in as many weeks. The defense continues to make plays on the ball, a carryover from 2019 despite personnel turnover.

- The Patriots would need a fortuitous bounce to pick up their first third-down conversion of the game, as the ball deflected through Julian Edelman's hands but into Gunner Olszewski's arms for the first down. Olszewski missed the first three weeks of the season but came through with one of New England's first significant offensive plays to get things going. Rex Burkhead would show some more of the magic that he had against the Raiders with a well-blocked 18-yard gain as well. The drive would stall and they'd have to settle for a field goal to close the score to 6-3, but it was a solid 13-play, 60-yard drive that was much needed.

- The game took a bad turn when the referees inexplicably blew the whistle early on a third-down play that should've been a fumble by Mahomes that the Patriots recovered. The play started with a good pass rush by Chase Winovich that wrapped up Mahomes, then in came Deatrich Wise, forcing a fumble that would've been recovered by Shilique Calhoun. Despite the blown call, the Patriots defense continued to make plays to keep the game game close and players like Winovich, Wise and Calhoun are continuing a trend of showing up with big plays, even if the refs don't count them.

- The Patriots took their first offensive penalty of the season late in the second quarter, a false start by Isaiah Wynn.

- N'Keal Harry had a nice third-down reception, using his size to shield the ball and pick up a first down. Hoyer started to find a rhythm with some underneath passes, while James White had a third-down conversion of his own with a hard run up the middle and Joe Thuney leading the way.

- Unfortunately, the Patriots would have their second-straight poor ending to the first half in as many weeks, with Hoyer taking a sack on third down with no timeouts. Last week, the Raiders picked up a late score just before halftime and this week it cost the Patriots at least three points and perhaps more. Situational football is usually a strength of the Patriots but after defensive issues last week, it was the offense this week that couldn't get it done.

- Despite the disappointing end to the half, it was overall an inspired first half from the Patriots with all things considered. But holding the Chiefs to six points for 30 minutes is one thing, doing it for a full 60 is something much, much tougher.

- The Patriots offense couldn't pick up the third quarter with where they left off moving the ball, going three-and-out for the second time in the game but the Chiefs offense wouldn't fare much better as a stout defensive front, led by Lawrence Guy, who was a force in the game, let KC pick up just one first down.

- We were almost getting used to seeing a QB scramble on third down but it looks a little different with Brian Hoyer running it than Cam Newton. Hoyer had a nice fake to pick up a first down with his legs. From there the Patriots started to find some passing success, with Hoyer finding Julian Edelman for his first two catches of the game to take New England back into KC territory. Hoyer would also connect with Damiere Byrd with his best throw of the day in between two defenders.

- The good plays would not continue though as Hoyer would cost the team more points with a fumble lost on third down. Hoyer was thrust into action on short notice and unfortunately his mistakes were the biggest factor in keeping New England from overtaking the Chiefs on the scoreboard.

- The Chiefs would strike back with a 45-yard completion to Travis Kelce, a perfect pass by Mahomes just before the pressure arrived. Kansas City would pick up the first touchdown four plays later and extend their lead to 13-3. The 85-yard drive took just over three minutes, as the Chiefs took firm control of the game in the blink of an eye.

- Jarrett Stidham was inserted into the game on the next drive, but it was Damien Harris who took an immediate spark from the change, taking a second-down carry 41 yards and into Chiefs territory. For the second-straight week, the Patriots showed some big-play ability on the ground and it came at a critical point. A pass interference penalty would then set the Pats up inside the Chiefs red zone and Stidham would finish the drive off with a perfect pass to Harry in the end zone to close the score to 13-10. It was a remarkable play for Stidham, who's had a roller coaster season despite this being merely the first game action he's seen in over a year.

- Mahomes would answer though, aided by two penalties and a deft scramble by the quarterback, to put them back inside the red zone, and then another play packed with misdirection that sprung Mecole Hardman into the end zone. It was another 75-yard drive that took under five minutes as the Chiefs were fully on track by the fourth quarter and despite an excellent effort by the Patriots defense, they just couldn't contain Mahomes for a full game.

- The Chiefs defense would put an exclamation point on their effort as the next Patriots pass went through Julian Edelman's hands and directly into Tyrann Mathieu's waiting arms which he promptly took into the end zone for a pick six that made it 26-10. It was an unfortunate unravelling by the Patriots, but one that wasn't entirely surprising given all the circumstances surrounding this game.

The New England Patriots take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a regular season game at Arrowhead Stadium on Monday, October 5, 2020.

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