Kansas City – Sooner or later the Patriots had to lose one of these. Sooner or later Adam Vinatieri was going to miss a game-winning field goal.
When the football banged off the right goal post to end the game with the Patriots on the short end of a 16-14 score, it was less unbelievable that the 32-yard field goal was missed than it was that the Patriots were in yet another last second situation.
That's because when you lose two fumbles out of five total, throw two interceptions and rush for 62 yards, you shouldn't have a chance to win. But the Patriots did.
With 4:52 left in the game, the Patriots found themselves down, 16-7. That 7 could have easily been three times that had Drew Bledsoe connected with a wide open Shawn Jefferson in the first half a couple times and Terry Allen hadn't fumbled in the red zone. But that was the situation so it was time for Bledsoe to go to work.
He did so, hitting Tony Simmons (7 catches, 107 yards) on passes of 13 and 39 yards to bring his team down to the Chiefs 10. From there, Bledsoe found Jefferson on the left side of the end zone for the score. With the P.A.T., New England trailed by only two with 2:43 left and no timeouts.
The Chiefs were held to one first down and was forced to punt, milking the clock for every second. When the Patriots finally got their hands on the ball there was a mere :30 left.
[1269:right]Bledsoe's accuracy and Kansas City's prevent defense made it possible to hit Terry Glenn for eight yards, Ben Coates for 18 and Jefferson for a huge 27. Just like that, New England was on the Chiefs' 14-yard line with :09 left in the game. A field goal would win it.
On this day, however, the football gods would not allow the better team that refused to play that way, the win. Vinatieri's attempt started right and stayed that way as it clanked off the post and fell harmlessly to the grass. It was the first game-winning field goal Vinatieri had missed in his entire pro career.
The Chiefs had no problem coming right out in the second half and putting up seven points. They did it primarily on the ground, running Morris and Bennett 11 times and keeping the ball over eight minutes. The final blow came from a Bennett dive from one yard out to give the Chiefs the lead, 10-7.
The Chiefs added a 41-yard field goal on their next possession to go up 13-7. They started as a result of a missed 49-yard field goal by Vinatieri. Kansas City took over at their own 39.
Kansas City would put up another three points in the fourth quarter, a 23-yard boot by Stoyanovich, after James Hasty intercepted Bledsoe.
All the talk about the crowd effect in Kansas City proved true in the first quarter as the Patriots were flagged for four false starts (three on Heath Irwin) in their first three drives. A Bledsoe fumble on a Derrick Alexander hit made thing worse and set up the Chiefs deep in New England territory. Excellent defense by the Patriots forced them to settle for a 22-yard Pete Stoyanovich field goal for a 3-0 Kansas City lead.
Things looked like they might get worse for the Patriots later in the first quarter when Kevin Faulk fumbled a second and 8 reverse. Terry Glenn made the recovery but the Patriots were faced with a third and 17 from midfield.
That's when Glenn broke free from James Hasty down the right side. Bledsoe found him and No. 88 went the distance. Vinatieri added the extra point and the Patriots grabbed the lead, 7-3.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both teams were unable to muster anything on offense. The Chiefs problems came mostly from the New England defense; the Patriots offense created their own problems. Two fumbles and a Bledsoe interception stopped the Patriots in their tracks. One of the fumbles was coughed up by Terry Allen with his team on the Chiefs 17-yard line.
The Chiefs had two turnovers of their own, an Elvis Grbac interception made by Lawyer Milloy and a Tony Gonzalez fumble on the Patriots side of the field.
On the day, Bledsoe was 23 of 45 for 334 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. And he took a beating, getting sacked three times and knocked to the ground on what seemed like every play.
More injuries: Troy Brown left the game in the first half with an ankle sprain and Bernard Russ twisted his knee on special teams. Bledsoe had stitches in his chin and Tedy Bruschi banged up his knee.