Four Ups, Four Downs From Patriots’ Season-Opening Loss To Chiefs

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots don’t lose at home, they don’t lose their season openers, they don’t lose when they lead after three quarters, and they don’t lose to teams coached by Andy Reid.

Except, of course, when they do. And on Thursday night, they did.

In what started as a glorious night for the Patriots but grew grisly in the fourth quarter, the Patriots limped out of their own building after being handed a 42-27 loss to start their season.

What’s wild is that up until sometime around midnight, the Patriots looked to be in position to win the game. But in the NFL, everything can change in a hurry.

There was no one specific person to blame for the failures, but there will be plenty of fingers pointed at both sides of the ball in the coming 10 days.

With that, let’s run through the Four Ups and Four Downs from the game, starting of course with the negatives.

FOUR DOWNS

Tom Brady

It’s only fair with the quarterback: If they get all the praise when the team wins, they get plenty of blame when the team loses. And though this loss wasn’t entirely on the quarterback, Brady was distinctly un-Brady-like.

He finished 16-for-36, a 44.4 completion percentage which stands as one of the worst of his career. He didn’t throw a pick but he also didn’t throw a touchdown (one to Rob Gronkowski was overturned on replay).

Granted, receivers generally were not open for him. But this is the man who told Peter King that he “has the answers to the test” after winning the Super Bowl. He didn’t have them on Thursday.

Malcolm Butler

It’s a big year for Butler, who’s in position to get his first (and probably only) huge payday in the NFL. But after a shaky preseason, Butler committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone in the second quarter to help set up a Chiefs touchdown.

Bill Belichick pointed to that touchdown as a crucial one in the game, and though Butler might have had a case that receiver Demarcus Robinson pushed off, the bottom line is that the flag flew.

Stephon Gilmore/Devin McCourty

Nobody knows what happened, but we know it wasn’t good.

With the Patriots leading 17-14 early in the third quarter, Tyreke Hill ran a deep route up the right side of the field. There was no Patriots defender within 10 yards.

On replay, it looked as though Gilmore had the route covered underneath, with the expectation that he’d have safety help from McCourty over the top. That was not the case.

It’s unclear who made the mistake, but that’s the type of miscommunication that costs teams wins.

Short-Yardage Execution

Early first quarter, fourth-and-1 from the Kansas City 10-yard line: Mike Gillislee up the middle for no gain.

Late first quarter, third-and-1 from the Kansas City 8-yard line: James White up the middle for no gain.

Early fourth quarter, fourth-and-1 from the Kansas City 40-yard line: Gillislee up the middle for no gain.

Had any one of these plays been converted, the outcome of the game might have changed. But the Chiefs won the struggle at the line, and as a result they won the football game.

These types of plays often come down to desire as much as design. The Patriots offense was lacking on Thursday.

ALSO: Dont’a Hightower suffered a right leg injury and didn’t return. Cassius Marsh got stuck in coverage on Kareem Hunt and gave up a 78-yard touchdown pass. Marsh and Brandon Bolden took running-into-the-kicker penalties on consecutive snaps.

FOUR UPS

Danny Amendola

With Julian Edelman out for the year, Danny Amendola certainly acquitted himself well as someone willing to step up.

Amendola caught six passes for 100 yards, handled the punt return duties, and proved himself to be tough as nails throughout.

Unfortunately, his night ended early due to a head injury, which could very well keep him off the field for a while.

On this night, even the ups were down.

Mike Gillislee

When the Patriots acquired Mike Gillislee, there was much excitement surrounding the potential uncovering of a hidden gem. That excitement is likely to build after his Patriots debut.

Gillislee gained just 45 yards on 15 carries, but most importantly, he scored three touchdowns. Those were the only three Patriots touchdowns of the night.

Deatrich Wise Jr.

The rookie hadn’t been seen since suffering a concussion early in the preseason, but he certainly looked like an NFL player in his regular-season debut.

The 6-foot-5, 271-pound defensive lineman out of Arkansas recorded a sack on the stat sheet, but he also pressured the quarterback on third down on three consecutive drives. One helped lead to a Trey Flowers sack, while Alex Smith was able to just get a pass away before taking a sack from Wise on the other.

Brandin Cooks

He caught three passes for 88 yards, including a 54-yard catch late in the third quarter to flip the field and set up a field goal. He also drew a pair of pass interference penalties which netted the Patriots 38 yards. Each one of those penalties set up a Patriots touchdown.

ALSO: Jordan Richards forced a fumble on the Chiefs’ first offensive play of the game. McCourty and Gilmore each broke up a pass on the plays immediately following Hightower’s injury to force a Kansas City punt.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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