By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — Bill Belichick has been involved in coaching football for over 40 years. So when he sees something like what he saw play out on the field Thursday night in the Patriots’ season opener against the Chiefs, he knows that there’s no reason to try to sugarcoat the 42-27 loss.
“Bad defense. Bad coaching. Bad planning. Bad football,” the coach said after watching the Chiefs come into Foxboro and put a historic beating on his team.
The night — which began with fireworks, live music, and all-time great Patriots players celebrating the hanging of yet another Super Bowl banner — did not appear to be headed in this direction as late as the midway point of the fourth quarter, when the Chiefs held a one-point lead. In Foxboro, where the Patriots just don’t lose, everybody was waiting for the Chiefs to fall on their face.
But on this night, it was the Patriots doing the flopping. And in spectacular fashion.
Taking over at their own 40, the Chiefs chipped their way up the field before Chris Conley made a 25-yard reception. An Alex Smith pass to Albert Wilson picked up another 11 yards, and on first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, rookie Kareem Hunt took a pitch to the right side and won the race to the pylon.
All Tom Brady and the offense needed to do at that point was drive down the field, score a touchdown, and then tack on a two-point conversion. Considering they made that seem easy the last time we saw them play a real game, it was almost expected to happen within the confines of Gillette Stadium.
Yet Brady took a sack on the Patriots’ next offensive play, and he followed it up with two incompletions on deep heaves.
The Chiefs took over, knowing that even a field goal would likely be enough to secure a victory. They ended up getting much more.
Hunt, a third-round pick out of Toledo, took a pitch and ran to the left side of the field. When he got to the corner, he saw there was no second level to the defense in front of him. He burst up the left sideline and didn’t stop until Devin McCourty pushed him out of bounds after 58 yards.
Sensing a weakness, the Chiefs stuck to the ground game, handing off to Charcandrick West on the next play. West patiently waited for a hole to open on the right side of the line, and once he found it, he broke 21 yards untouched into the end zone.
And that was your ballgame — though Brady hung in to take two more sacks on the ensuing drive, as if to add some more pain to the equation.
When the final score showed a 42-27 score, it represented the most points ever allowed by the Patriots under Belichick. Smith joined Drew Brees as the only quarterbacks to ever record a 300-plus-yard, 4-TD, 0-INT game against a Belichick-coached defense. Hunt finished with 148 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in his first career NFL game. It was the most yards from scrimmage by a rookie making his debut in NFL history.
After unveiling the banner for Super Bowl LI and hosting a big ol’ pregame party at the stadium, nobody saw this one coming. With the loss, all talk of a potential undefeated season will come to an end before most of the league even kicks off the year. And in New England, there will be plenty of dissection of just what went wrong — from the obvious collapses on defense to the inconsistencies of the offense to some coaching decisions worth being questioned.
Brady, who embarked on his age 40 season with his fifth-lowest single-game completion percentage as a starting quarterback, made it clear that the preseason loss of Julian Edelman can’t serve as an excuse for an offense that was stopped twice on fourth down and gave way to the punter six more times.
“We definitely have to play better. It’s a long year, so we’ve got 15 games. We’re going to have to do a better job, and he’s not coming back,” Brady said of Edelman. “So, the guys that are in there are going to have to do a good job. Every position that we have is going to have to do a better job than we did tonight. There was nothing really positive about anything that was done, so we’ve got to get back to work.”
For Brady — whose regular-season record at home dropped to 101-18 — a team turnaround will have to begin with a direct change within each player.
“We just have to be a lot better in a lot of areas, starting with our attitude and our competitiveness. We’re going to have to do a lot better than tonight,” Brady said. “I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better. That is a winning attitude and a championship attitude that you need to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field. It’s a terrible feeling, and the only people that can do something about it are in that locker room. We’ve got to dig a lot deeper than we did tonight because we didn’t dig very deep tonight.”