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Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Hold off Tom Brady, Patriots 23-16 in AFC Showdown

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2019

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 08: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles during the first half against the New England Patriots in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs reeled off their third straight win Sunday, beating the New England Patriots 23-16 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Bashaud Breeland forced an incompletion on a pass to Julian Edelman as the Patriots faced a 4th-and-3 at the Chiefs' 5-yard line with 1:06 left. That sealed the win as Kansas City's offense ran the remaining time off the clock.

Kansas City Chiefs @Chiefs

BREEZY CALLED GAME ✊ @Bree2Land6 | #ProBowlVote https://t.co/tF9BcaWWtF

This was a rematch from last year's AFC Championship Game, which the Patriots won in overtime. Beating New England won't fully erase the hurt from that defeat, but the Chiefs showed they are a serious threat to the Patriots should the two meet again in the playoffs.

Kansas City also clinched the AFC West crown with the Oakland Raiders' loss to the Tennessee Titans. 

The Patriots fell to 10-3, giving the Baltimore Ravens sole possession of first place in the AFC. Baltimore also has the head-to-head tiebreaker over New England were the teams to finish with the same record.

The Ravens did the Patriots a favor, however, since their win over the Buffalo Bills means the Pats still remain atop the AFC East.

                 

Notable Performers

  • Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs: 26-of-40, 283 yards, one touchdown, one interception
  • LeSean McCoy, RB, Chiefs: 11 carries, 39 yards; one reception, four yards
  • Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: seven receptions, 66 yards; one carry, four yards, one touchdown
  • Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: six receptions, 62 yards
  • Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: 19-of-36, 169 yards, one touchdown, one interception
  • James White, RB, Patriots: six carries, 33 yards; five receptions, 27 yards
  • Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: eight receptions, 95 yards, one touchdown

        

Chiefs Survive Despite Going Ice Cold in Second Half

The Chiefs held a 20-7 lead at halftime and opened the second half with a Harrison Butker field goal to go ahead by 16 points. Kansas City appeared to be firmly in control, even against the reigning Super Bowl champions on the road.

Travis Kelce was running the ball into the end zone on read-options.

NFLonCBS @NFLonCBS

TRAVIS KELCE READ OPTION TOUCHDOWN...RUN!?!? https://t.co/qVIbHAQFck

The defense caused all kinds of problems for Tom Brady as well by applying constant pressure in the pocket.  Breeland picked off a Brady pass in the second quarter.

Kansas City Chiefs @Chiefs

.@Bree2Land6 takes it right back 2️⃣6️⃣ #ProBowlVote https://t.co/1Km08sZFUy

Kansas City Chiefs @Chiefs

.@TheRealFrankC_ gets to Brady 💪 #ProBowlVote https://t.co/MSPDyFd4pV

The offense ground to a halt in the second half, however, after Butker's field goal. Mahomes was uncharacteristically poor and showed little willingness to take chances down the field against an admittedly good Patriots secondary.

Tod Palmer @todpalmer

Man, the Chiefs’ offense settling for field goals remains a big problem. A TD on the last play of the first half or first drive of the second would have been a dagger. Big stop on the two-point to blunt some momentum after that blocked punt.

shannon sharpe @ShannonSharpe

Mahomes, playing tentative. Kelce was open and he had time. Play your gm

The tide was firmly turning in favor of New England as the third and fourth quarters unfolded. To that end, the Chiefs deserve credit for holding on. The defense got the one stop it needed on the Patriots' final possession.

The way in which the offense sputtered to the finish line won't provide a ton of confidence, though. 

       

Patriots's Offensive Vulnerability on Display

The Patriots defense has clearly outperformed the offense, but New England ranked a respectable 10th in offensive efficiency entering Week 14, per Football Outsiders. New England had 448 total yards in its 28-22 defeat to the Houston Texans a week ago.

People have been burned too many times by predicting the demise of the Patriots, but Sunday night served as a warning sign should they encounter an elite offense in the postseason. Generating 278 yards off offense probably won't get it done in the playoffs.

Things weren't looking great at halftime as New England had seven points and heard boos from the home fans on the way to the locker room.

Damon Amendolara @DAonCBS

Media Notes for all broadcasters calling Patriots games: “Please remember to mention: -Brady has no targets -The offensive line is not giving him time -The Pats cannot establish the run If you choose to ignore these points you will receive a letter from the league office.”

Aaron Schatz 🏈 @FO_ASchatz

Given what's happened to both the Pats offense and the Steelers defense in the weeks since, the Week 1 result of Patriots 33, Steelers 3 looks like one of the biggest aberrations of the season.

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

Boos from the home crowd as half ends with sputtering New England offense unable to gain any momentum. Chiefs lead 20-7 and get the ball to open the 2nd half. When comparing the offenses, things have come much easier for the Chiefs. Patriots' 21-game home win streak in jeopardy.

Defense and special teams were nearly enough to spark a comeback in the second half. 

Nate Ebner blocked a punt in the third quarter that gave New England a short field and helped set up Brandon Bolden's 10-yard touchdown run.

New England Patriots @Patriots

Special teams coming through. @NateEbner | #GoPats https://t.co/SEmtnAuTuQ

On Kansas City's next drive, Devin McCourty poked the ball free from Travis Kelce to again give the offense solid field position. The Patriots should've had an even shorter field—and maybe a touchdown—had referees not whistled the play dead.

That was the first of two big calls in the second half that incorrectly went against New England. The referees ruled N'Keal Harry out at the 3-yard line when he remained inbounds to score what would've been a 15-yard touchdown reception.

Geoff Schwartz @geoffschwartz

It’s weird to see the officials screw the Pats. They blew that fumble dead. Harry just scored and they said he was out. I think the Chiefs were short on the first challenge as well. Welcome to the real world Pats fans

Judy Battista @judybattista

If the Patriots lose that game, the officials are going to hear about that drive for a while. Two very bad blown calls on that drive - the fumble/blown dead and the Harry non-TD that should have been ruled a TD.

The officiating crew didn't cost the Patriots the game, but they have a right to feel aggrieved about the situation.

         

What's Next?

The Chiefs host the Denver Broncos on Dec. 15, while the Patriots hit the road to play the Cincinnati Bengals.