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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

View from Above: Other than the score, these numbers have meaning 

It's a numbers game...but not without finding a fault or two...and JR says defense did exist elsewhere, just not in Foxboro...


The numbers are astounding, really.

The final score wasn't bad, either, as the 43-40 had-'em-where-you-wanted-'em win over the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs might suggest. But this knock-down, back-and-forth affair requires a closer look at a few of the superlatives involved...lest we forget they actually happened.

It was that kind of a night. One for the books, you might say.

Let's start with a big one - never in the history of the National Football League had a regular season (or postseason) game ended with a 43-40 score. Never. While that seems somewhat hard to believe, it's also just the second time in 59 years of Patriots' football that the team played in a game where BOTH sides scored more than 40 points.

The first one? A 43-43 tie with Oakland on Oct. 16, 1964 - nearly 54 years ago to the day, in the era of the old American Football League.

What's next? As the TV infomercials love to tell us, "but wait, there's more." And it shouldn't come as a surprise that Tom Brady figures prominently among them.

To begin with, the 43-40 win over the Chiefs was the 227th of Brady's career, nudging him past Colts' kicker (and ex-Pat) Adam Vinatieri for most all-time in NFL history. It's also his 200th win in the regular season, with only three other players in history hitting that mark (George Blanda, 209, Vinatieri 206, Gary Anderson 201). While Blanda was a one-time QB in the AFL, he (and the two others) hit the 200-mark as a kicker.  

Pretty good, right? Well, as Mr. T once told a punch-drunk Rocky Balboa - "I gotta lotta mo'."  

Seeing as football is considered a "team" game, how about the win over the Chiefs being number 218 for the franchise since 2000 - the start of the Bill Belichick era? The Patriots have now moved past the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980's and '90's (to 2017) for the most total victories over two consecutive decades.  

And there are 26 games in this decade still to be played.

Really. If you need some water-cooler fodder for your friends-and-fans-of-other-teams, you might need to come back and bookmark this - 'cuz there's still more.

The one you might have missed, considering the pin-ball action on the scoreboard Sunday night - was the Patriots becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to play an entire game without punting or being charged with a penalty.  

Considering how we nitpick at the wins and losses here each week, it's only fitting to point out the statistical anomalies - as well as the outstanding play - when warranted.  

Need a few more to tide you over until kickoff next week? Well, there's Rob Gronkowski reaching 500 career receptions, the 15th tight end in NFL history to hit the mark (and 4th fastest); Gronk is the fastest in league history for a tight end to hit 7500 career receiving yards; Stephen Gostkowski is the 19th kicker in history to hit 350 for his career (and he has nine game-winners); the Patriots' defense now has at least one interception in all six games played so far this season - the first time they've accomplished this in the first six games of a season since 1990.

Oh yeah, almost forgot - QB's at age 25 or under (like Patrick Mahomes) are now 1-42 all-time in regular season games played at Gillette Stadium. It does seem as if underage quarterbacking around here, like underage drinking, can be hazardous to your health.

There's still more - but you probably get the point by now. Including the Patriots' 59-18 record in the month of October since 2000, and 34-6 record at Gillette in the NFL.

Those are the numbers that count the most, right?

However, there was this...

There was probably no way the New England defense could bottle up and contain the explosively-quick Kansas City receivers all night long.  

But on the two biggest passing completions of the night for the Chiefs, the 67-yard scoring strike to Kareem Hunt (Dont'a Hightower, guilty) and the 75-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill (Duron Harmon, likewise) the Patriot defense found itself out of position to even be close to making a possible play.  

However, in both instances it's probably fair to say the Patriot defenders underestimated the outstanding speed and talent of both players. Additionally, both Patriot offenders (Hightower and Harmon) also came up with interceptions before the night's horse race was completed.

Best guess, though - those two plays end up with some scrutiny and attention paid to them during film sessions this week.

...and this, too...

In the 4th quarter, the Patriots' special teams learned a big lesson.

When in doubt, kick it out. Of the back of the end zone, that is.

Gostkowski's penchant for kicking off and leaving the decision to the opposing returner at or near the goal line was met with a resounding result by Kansas City's Tremon Smith. And it wasn't in the Patriots' favor.

Smith torched the kick-return team for a 97-yard run back, eventually setting up what would be a go-ahead touchdown for the Chiefs after New England held a 15-point lead at halftime. The Patriots have an incredible 88-game winning streak with as much as a 14-point lead at the half - but that superlative met a supreme challenge with just 8:44 left to play.

Firing blanks

In a game where touchdowns were expected to be scored and stacked in bundles like bales of hay, the misfires needed to be kept to a minimum - if not eliminated altogether.

That didn't happen. Even though the offense provided plenty of fireworks for the scoreboard and 500 total yards (the most at home since 2014), there was the opening-drive fizzle on 4th down at the KC 40 (which led to a Chiefs' FG) and a red zone stall-out early in the 3rd quarter (resulting in a Gostkowski 24-yard FG) that could have proven problematic.

There was also the Brady fumble after trying to extend a play with plenty of time in pass protection late in the 3rd quarter that KC did convert into a touchdown.

Overall, there's very little to complain about when it comes to the offensive output. But it wasn't perfect, either. And that might be the scary part when future opponents put in their film study on the Patriots.

And elsewhere...

  • Anyone else notice the piece of swiss cheese masquerading as a run defense in Denver? The Broncos allowed the Rams' Todd Gurley to rush for 208 yards in a 23-20 LA win - and it's the first time in league history a defense has allowed two backs in successive weeks, in the same season, to each go over the 200-yard mark. The J-E-T-S Isaiah Crowell hit up the Broncos for 219 last week.
  • Baltimore's defense set a franchise record with 11 sacks in a 21-0 whitewashing of the Tennessee Titans. Marcus Mariota threw only 15 passes and for 117 yards, consistently under pressure from the Ravens. The Titans had only seven first downs for the entire game and did not have a drive of more than seven plays.
  • WTH has happened to Jacksonville? Dallas went into the game a mere 30th in scoring offense yet put up a 40-dog on the Jaguars in a 40-7 romp. The once-vaunted Jacksonville defense has allowed 70 points the past two weeks, and the offense misses Leonard Fournette more by the minute.
  • And speaking of vaunted defenses, the Brock Osweiler-led Miami Dolphins beat the Chicago Bears 31-28 in overtime, with the Bears waiting on the Patriots next weekend at Soldier Field. Osweiler threw for 380 yards - 268 coming after the catch - as da Bears were burned by YAC. Don't think the Patriots won't be paying attention to that last number this week.

John Rooke, an author and award-winning broadcaster, is in his 26th season as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for more than 30 years and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame and RI's Words Unlimited Hall of Fame.

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