If Cam Newton had started against the Chiefs, the Pats could’ve easily won.
Despite their history of winning outright as big underdogs, it was asking a lot of the Patriots to walk out of Arrowhead with a victory against an undefeated Chiefs team in Week 4. That task became all the more daunting once quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 a little over 24 hours before the originally scheduled kickoff on Sunday.
However, because head coach Bill Belichick knows how to get his team up for any game no matter how greatly the odds are stacked against him, the Patriots were within striking distance up until about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
They ultimately succumbed to suspect quarterback play, costly turnovers and far too many boneheaded mistakes from the offense. The defense, meanwhile, delivered a superb performance, preventing the Chiefs from scoring a touchdown in the first half for just the third time in the Patrick Mahomes era, which began in 2018.
The other two instances both came in losses to the Patriots, so you really have to think the reigning AFC East champs would have come out on top on Monday night if Newton was under center.
That stat is mind-boggling and proves this would have been a different game had Newton been available. It’s honestly remarkable to think the Patriots had a realistic shot at beating KC despite leaving several points on the board and having an interception returned for a touchdown.
You could point a little blame in the direction of Belichick for leaving Brian Hoyer in as long as he did and not challenging a blown call by the referees that should have gone down as a Mahomes turnover. However, this game came down to Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham playing like rookies making their first career NFL starts.
The two backups combined to finished 20-of-37 (54%) for 190 yards and one touchdown compared to four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble). We don’t mean to come down on them, but they were so egregious that Newton should have a fresh contract extension waiting for him at his locker whenever he’s cleared to emerge from self-isolation.
The Patriots’ rushing attack was unstoppable on Monday night, totaling 185 yards on 35 carries (5.3 average) and Newton only would have made it more difficult to defend. Damien Harris and Co. did an exceptional job at surgically marching the offense down the field.
All that was missing was a little decisiveness and composure in the red zone. Two of Hoyer’s biggest blunders — a fumble and taking a sack in the closing seconds of the first calf — came just outside of the Chiefs 10-yard line. If Newton’s in the game, the Patriots (at the very least) attempt two chip shot field goals.
Instead, they had zero points to show for it and ultimately walked out of Arrowhead with a double-digit defeat. If a date with Kansas City presents itself in the playoffs, well, this game proved that Patriots fans shouldn’t be the least bit scared of that matchup. Newton under center gives this team a whole new identity, especially if the defense continues to create problems for Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.