By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Gillette Stadium may not be the loudest stadium in the NFL. It may not have the highest capacity, and it may not have any specific design details that make it particularly more difficult for opponents to play than any other stadium.
But there’s no questioning the fact that Gillette Stadium has been a house of horrors for nearly every team that’s visited since it opened in 2002, and that’s been especially true for AFC teams. Since 2007, in regular-season games started by Tom Brady at home, AFC teams are 2-60.
You get the idea. If you’re visiting Gillette Stadium, you generally lose.
Yet even with that history being well established, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce does not find it intimidating to play in Foxboro.
“Yeah, I don’t think this is an intimidating place at all,” the tight end said after Sunday night’s loss.
Kelce had been asked if he believed first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes might have been intimidated by the environment, leading to some early misfires. So it’s understandable that the veteran would want to downplay such a storyline from coming into existence. But Kelce also doubled down in the same answer.
“I think it’s just the excitement of it, being Sunday night, against a great team, I think he got excited. I don’t think it’s intimating for him at all,” Kelce said.
Granted, the Kansas City Chiefs were one of those two AFC victories in Foxboro, as they blew out the Patriots last year in Week 1. But they were also the most recent addition to the loss column, after Sunday’s 43-40 Patriots win. That may not have been the best timing for Kelce to offer his opinion on the matter.
But not being intimidated by Gillette Stadium is something that’s not new for Kelce. When he made his first trek to Foxboro, during the 2015 postseason, he tried to make that clear by mocking or taunting Tom Brady during the quarterback’s pregame pump-up yell in the corner of the end zone. Kelce happened to be near the spot where Brady always lets loose a primal roar to the crowd gathered during pregame warmups, and the Chiefs’ tight end went ahead and mimicked the scream right back at Brady.
Kelce caught six passes for just 23 yards that day, as the Patriots ended the Chiefs’ season. Brady threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions, with both of those touchdowns going to Rob Gronkowski. (More on him shortly.) Brady also ran for a touchdown that day.
The Chiefs, though, proved much more successful in their next trip to Gillette — a 42-27 stunner in Week 1 last year. The Chiefs might have had a chance to travel back to Gillette in the postseason, but they lost at home to the Titans. (The Titans then traveled to Foxboro in the divisional round and lost by 21 points.)
Kelce and the undefeated Chiefs suffered their first loss of the 2018 season on Sunday night. Kelce caught five passes for 61 yards and had an impressive leapfrog of Duron Harmon, but he didn’t find the end zone on this night.
Despite the lack of intimidation of the Patriots’ stadium, Kelce did express a healthy respect for Brady after Sunday’s game.
“Just being more composed,” Kelce said when asked what the difference was for Mahomes in the second half. “It is a big game going up against arguably the greatest of all time. I know he has a lot of respect for [Brady], and the team has a lot of respect for 12. It being a Sunday night game, we knew it was going to be a special one. I think the emotions and the excitement got a little ahead of us. We just settled down and we saw [Mahomes] in the second half be more like himself and have a little fun out there.”
As for a healthy respect for fellow All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski? Well …
The football world won’t be short on storylines if the Patriots and Chiefs are to meet again this year in the playoffs — preferably in the non-intimidating confines of Gillette Stadium.