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Patriots hold off Chiefs, take 30-24 victory

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            **FOXBORO, MA –** Three nearly perfect quarters proved to be enough for New England as the Patriots beat Kansas City 30-24 Monday night at Foxboro Stadium.  

The Patriots (4-9) never trailed in the game as they ran a no-huddle offense that kept the Chiefs off balance throughout the night. New England used the offense to build a 27-10 lead, and then the Patriots held on as the Chiefs potential game-winning drive stalled at the Patriots 6-yard line.

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            "I was really pleased with the way we came out and responded from our last performance," Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "It got a little closer than we would have liked and we had a couple of bad plays that let Kansas City back in the game, but they have a lot of good players and [the Chiefs] deserve credit too."  

New England established a sizeable lead for themselves when they reeled off 17 unanswered points after the Chiefs had tied the game 10-10. The Patriots took the lead for good in the second quarter when Drew Bledsoe hit Troy Brown with a 17-yard touchdown pass over the middle for a 17-10 lead. The score had been set up by a 35-yard punt return by Kevin Faulk.

After a second straight defensive stand, the Patriots had a chance to add to the lead with 1:01 left in the first half. Bledsoe and the offense started at their own 24. On three straight plays Bledsoe hit Brown for 11 yards and Jermaine Wiggins twice for 25 yards to put the ball at the Chiefs 40.

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            The drive appeared to stall there, but on third down Bledsoe drew Kansas City's Eric Hicks offsides as the clock ran out. The Patriots were allowed one final play, and Adam Vinatieri (3 field goals) made a 53-yard field goal to put New England on top 20-10.  

New England's momentum carried into the third quarter. After both teams went three-and-out on their opening possessions of the second half, The Patriots defense came up with a big play. Linebacker Ted Johnson, who returned after missing three games, recovered a fumble at the Patriots 37.

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            Bledsoe, who finished the game 33-of-48 for 282 yards, enjoyed the hurry-up offense the Patriots employed.  

"I was pretty excited about it," Bledsoe said. "I came in earlier in the week and [offensive coordinator] Charlie [Weis] brought it up, and I was excited about it. We tried it earlier in the season against [Tampa Bay], but it didn't work out too well for us. This time it worked."

It certainly worked on the team's final touchdown drive, as Bledsoe completed seven straight passes to five different receivers on an 8-play, 63-yard touchdown drive. Jermaine Wiggins, added to the roster midway through the week, caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive and make the score 27-10 for the Patriots.

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            Wiggins appeared very comfortable despite having just a few days with the Patriots. The first-year tight end had 5 catches for 41 yards.  

"I can play, I can help and I can compete," Wiggins said. "I was with Charlie up in New York last year. So I basically had a good feel for the offense.

Despite the big lead, the game had anxious moments. A Faulk fumble allowed Kansas City to score a quick touchdown in the fourth quarter, making the score 30-24. After a stop by the Chiefs defense, the Patriots punted the ball away with 1:02 on the clock.

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            Starting from his own 26-yard line with no timeouts, Elvis Grbac moved quickly. He ran 6 yards on the first play of the drive, then Tony Gonzalez for two passes that covered 52 yards, giving Kansas City the ball at the Patriots 16 with 20 seconds on the clock. Grbac then hit Sylvester Morris for 9 yards, and Morris got out of bounds at the 7 with 16 seconds left.  

After a false start pushed Kansas City back to the 12, Grbac threw an incomplete pass to set up the final play with 11 seconds left. Grbac completed a 5-yard pass to Gonzalez, but Tebucky Jones tackled the tight end in bounds and the clock ran out.

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            "I wasn't going to let him score, no way," Jones said. "I knew if I made the tackle and laid on him the game was over. They had no time outs left. I hit him, laid on him and the game was over.  

"It shouldn't have been that close. The whole world was watching."

The world watched several Patriots have strong individual performances, including a number of coming out parties from young players. In addition to Wiggins, rookie wide receiver Curtis Jackson was strong in the return game, averaging more than 29 yards on four returns, including a 47-yard job on the opening kick that led to a Patriots field goal.

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            "I was very excited to be out there," Jackson said. "The [kick return] unit did an awesome job and really opened up big holes for me. It also meant a lot that the coaches had enough confidence in me to put me out there even though I've only been here a couple weeks."  

Other strong performances came from Brown (12 catches, 119 yards, TD); Adrian Klemm, who made his first career start, filling in at right tackle for Grant Williams; and from Ty Law, who had four passes defensed and for the most part kept the Chiefs receivers in check.

Notes

  • The inactives for New England were quarterback Tom Brady, running back J.R. Redmond, offensive lineman Josh Rawlings, tackle Greg Robinson-Randall, defensive end David Nugent and defensive end Reggie Grimes. Quarterback John Friesz was the emergency quarterback.

Rookies Adrian Klemm and Curtis Jackson made their first career starts. Klemm played right tackle in place of Grant Williams, and Jackson started in place of Tony Carter. *

Defensive end Willie McGinest was featured during halftime of the game during the "Monday Night Football" broadcast. McGinest wore a microphone during the first half and sound bites from him were played at the break. *

Henry Thomas played fullback on Faulk's second-quarter touchdown. *

Lee Johnson became the 2nd leading punter in NFL history with his second punt of the game. Johnson's 1,142nd career punt moved him ahead of Rohn Stark.

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