The New England Patriots started off slow on offense and were down 3-0 in the first quarter. After the first quarter, it was all Patriots as they scored 34 unanswered points, the majority coming after halftime. The offense showed balance but tipped towards the running game, running 33 called run plays (subtracting two Brady scrambles) and 29 called pass plays (adding two Brady scrambles that were supposed to be passes). BenJarvus Green-Ellis had the bulk of the carries, running 20 times for 81 yards. Danny Woodhead and rookie Shane Vereen, seeing his first NFL carries, also chipped in. TE Rob Gronkowski was the star of the show, catching 4 passes for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns, including one where he was upended and landed awkwardly on his neck. He got up slowly before making his signature ball spike TD celebration. He didn’t miss any time due to the fall.
As the score suggests, the defense also had its hand in the victory.
After giving up an initial 3 points, the defense locked the Chiefs’ offense out of the end zone and didn’t allow anymore points. Kyle Arrington added 2 interceptions to his season total, now leading the NFL with 7. The front seven was able to apply pressure to QB Tyler Palko and sacked him three times. Andre Carter got a half a sack, Rob Ninkovich got one, and Mark Anderson got 1.5. While the defense was able to allow only 3 points, the Chiefs still did have some success moving the ball, which has to be concerning moving forward. The Chiefs converted 6-of-14 third downs (43%) and racked up 334 total net yards. Still, you can’t win a football game with yards, so holding the Chiefs to 3 points is a big positive. Was it the defense getting better or the fact that it was a Chiefs offense with a backup QB?
QB Tom Brady was hit often by the Chief defense and sacked 3 times. The protection of “The Franchise” is a bit concerning as it seems to be a growing trend. Despite the pressure, Brady completed 15 of 27 throws for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns, good for a 109.2 QB rating. Julian Edelman made an impact in the game, though it wasn’t on offense. He played some snaps on defense, drawing a holding penalty on a would-be Chiefs third-down conversion and then making the third-down stop on the following play. His biggest play was on special teams when he returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown, sealing the game.
Next up for the Pats are the Philadelphia Eagles, who likely represent the stiffest remaining challenge on the schedule until the playoffs.