BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots weren’t supposed to have any chance in Kansas City on Monday night. After losing their starting quarterback over the weekend to a positive COVID-19 test, after facing uncertainty and consternation about the virus inside their locker room, after traveling to Missouri on the day of the game and after losing their leading rusher and playing without two of their starting offensive linemen, all signs pointed to an obvious loss for Bill Belichick’s team.

Yet through almost three full quarters of football … the Patriots were not only in the game against the Chiefs.

They should have been winning.

Alas, eventually the defending Super Bowl champs gained control of the game, turning it on late en route to a 26-10 victory.

With the loss, the Patriots drop to 2-2 on the year, while the Chiefs improved to 4-4.

Mahomes completed 19 of his 29 passes for 236 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Brian Hoyer — filling in for Cam Newton — completed 15 of his 24 passes for 130 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He also lost a fumble on one of his two costly sacks in the red zone.

Stidham replaced Hoyer in the second half, completing five of his 13 passes for 48 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Running back Damien Harris, activated from IR by the Patriots prior to the game, rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries.

The Chiefs got out to an early lead, thanks in large part to Devin McCourty dropping a gift-wrapped interception from Mahomes on the third play of the game. With some big gains to Tyreek Hill and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs drove to the New England 5-yard line. But Mahomes threw incomplete to Sammy Watkins on third down, with the receiver covered by Stephon Gilmore, leading to a short Kansas City field goal to go up 3-0.

Kansas City doubled the lead in the waning seconds of the first quarter, when Harrison Butker successfully kicked a 39-yard field goal.

After a Hoyer interception on the ensuing drive, the first quarter came to an end with the Chiefs having gained 157 yards and the Patriots having gained just 30.

The Patriots finally mounted a scoring drive to start the second quarter on a possession that was gained when Gilmore punched the ball free from Watkins and J.C. Jackson recovered the loose ball. The Patriots capitalized with a 13-play, 60-yard drive, which featured a circus catch from Gunner Olszewski. That drive ended with a successful 43-yard field goal from Nick Folk.

The Patriots’ defense then forced a turnover from Mahomes on a third down, but referee Tony Corrente incorrectly ruled that Mahomes was down prior to losing the football. Bill Belichick did not challenge, and the Chiefs quickly punted, costing the Patriots 45 yards of field position.

The Patriots still mounted what should have been a scoring drive, but Hoyer took a sack on third down. The Patriots had on timeouts remaining, and the final seconds ticked off the clock without the Patriots getting to attempt the game-tying field goal.

The game headed to halftime with the Chiefs ahead, 6-3.

The Patriots were driving in the third quarter to either tie or take the lead, driving to the Kansas City 5-yard line. But Hoyer didn’t feel pressure on third down, and Taco Charlton stripped the ball free from the QB’s grasp.

Kansas City recovered and then drove 85 yards on seven plays, sparked by a 45-yard catch and run by Travis Kelce. Mahomes flipped an underhand toss to Tyreek Hill on third-and-goal from the 6-yard line, and the speedy wideout scored the first touchdown of the game to put the Chiefs up 13-3.

Belichick then replaced Hoyer with Jarrett Stidham, who handed off to Damien Harris on his first two snaps, with the running back eating up 50 yards before the end of the third quarter.

Benefiting from a pass interference penalty by Tyrann Mathieu to negate his own interception, Stidham lobbed a jump ball to the corner of the end zone for N’Keal Harry, who beat Rashad Fenton for a touchdown. Folk’s extra point cut Kansas City’s lead to three points with 13:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Stidham was only 1-for-2 for 4 yards on that drive, but the one completion was certainly a big one.

But the Chiefs drove right back down the field, aided by a so-so penalty call on Ja’Whaun Bentley for a late hit on Mahomes out of bounds. After Mahomes scrambled for 18 yards, the QB again tossed a quick flip to a receiver — this time Mecole Hardman — who ran around the right end and scored a touchdown. Butker missed the PAT, making the score 19-10 with 8:57 left.

The Patriots’ comeback it a roadblock on the ensuing play, when Edelman dropped a pass that hit him in both hands. The bobbled ball went directly to Mathieu, he made the interception and returned it 24 yards for a pick-six to put the Chiefs up 26-10.

Stidham launched a deep ball to Damiere Byrd late in the fourth, with the Patriots still trailing by 16 points, but Fenton picked it off and killed the Patriots’ hopes.

Offensively, the Patriots were playing without quarterback Cam Newton, running back Sony Michel, center David Andrews and guard Shaq Mason.

The 2-1 Patriots will next play on Sunday at home against the Denver Broncos — provided they don’t produce any more positive COVID-19 test results in the coming days.

Comments
  1. Frank DeLorey says:

    Missing Brady? Should have treated him better…karma

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