Patriots Live Blog: Rob Gronkowski Leads New England to 34-3 Victory Against Chiefs

Patriots Live Blog: Rob Gronkowski Leads New England to 34-3 Victory Against Chiefs

Final, Patriots 34-3: The Patriots improved to 7-3, and they've got a two-game lead in the division with six games to play. They'll start getting ready for an interesting Eagles team next Sunday in Philly.

Plenty more postgame coverage coming on NESN.com.

Fourth quarter, 1:01, Patriots 34-3: Shane Vereen ran for his first career touchdown on a nice play to glide through the line on fourth down. There are going to be some running-up-the-score comments, but the scoreboard actually broke there. So the Patriots did break the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter, 5:47, Patriots 27-3: Cancer survivor Marcus Cannon has replaced Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle to make his NFL debut in the first game he's been eligible to play.

However, left tackle Matt Light was helped off with a right leg injury, either to his knee or ankle. To state the obvious, the last thing the Patriots need in garbage time is to lose a starter to injury.

Wes Welker caught his first pass of the game on the last play to keep his streak going. He's caught a pass in every game he's played in New England.

Fourth quarter, 6:32, Patriots 27-3: This thing is mercifully getting closer to ending. The Chiefs turned it over on downs after Tyler Palko continued running for his life to little avail. The Chiefs have no chance with him at quarterback. They've got to look at Ricky Stanzi, the fifth-rounder from Iowa who was Jeff Tarpinian's roommate in college.

Fourth quarter, 10:50, Patriots 27-3: Tyler Palko channeled his inner Jason Campbell and threw the second worst pass I've seen all season. Palko threw toward Steve Breaston in triple coverage, and it was intercepted by Phillip Adams in the end zone. And not only was it triple coverage, but Breaston was along the baseline behind the three guys covering him. Not even Rob Gronkowski could have caught that.

End of third quarter, Patriots 27-3: The Patriots loaded up on the ground and ran down the field to set up Stephen Gostkowski's 19-yard field goal, which came after Aaron Hernandez dropped a touchdown pass on third down.

This game has the makings of Brian Hoyer time.

Third quarter, 4:47, Patriots 24-3: Kyle Arrington picked off his second pass of the game and his league-leading seventh of the season to crush a Kansas City drive that moved to midfield.

I don't think we're going to learn a lot about the Patriots' defense in this game. They're playing a pretty soft zone and giving Tyler Palko the opportunity to nickel and dime his way down the field, and Palko can't do it. This is a perfect example of when to use the bend-don't-break philosophy because Palko will keep on breaking.

Third quarter, 9:24, Patriots 24-3: That confirms my belief that Julian Edelman has the tools to be one of the game's best punt returners if he can stay healthy. Edelman shook four defenders in the first pocket after catching the punt and took it 72 yards to the house for his second career punt return for a touchdown.

Before that, the Chiefs went three-and-out, and this thing has gotten out of hand in a hurry. I think it could get worse, too. There's no way the Chiefs can make a push here, and I can see them giving up.

Third quarter, 10:27, Patriots 17-3: Rob Gronkowski might have actually felt pain there. He caught a pass in the right flat, broke a tackle, sprinted up the right sideline and flipped over another would-be tackler to score his second touchdown of the game — this one from 19 yards out. Gronkowski was checked out by the medical staff, and he actually had them laughing on the sideline, so that's a good sign. They were looking at his eyes and made him stretch out his neck after landing hard on the turf, but he appears to be good to go.

That's a great drive for New England. Like I said at halftime, the Patriots had an opportunity to crush the Chiefs' spirits at the start of the half, and they are halfway there. Let's see if the defense can keep it going.

Third quarter, 14:56, Patriots 10-3: Danny Woodhead returned the kickoff to the New England 16 to start the second half.

Wes Welker was not targeted with a single pass in the first half for the first time of his time with the Patriots. So that's pretty wild.

Halftime, Patriots 10-3: The Patriots are going to be pretty ticked in the locker room after that half of football, but I wonder how the Chiefs will feel? They played about as well as possible considering the circumstances, and they still trail by a touchdown.

The Patriots receive the second-half kickoff, and they've got to continue to try crushing KC's psyche. If they can score on this possession and get a stop on defense, this game could spiral out of control in a hurry. Then again, I made that sound way too easy, and the Patriots didn't make much look easy in the first 30 minutes.

Second quarter, 0:10, Patriots 10-3: Not perfect, but a good way to rebound after a horrendous start to the half. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 21-yard field goal after the Pats stalled on a goal-to-go situation. You've seen that third-down route before, as Danny Woodhead ran through the right flat toward the pylon, but the Chiefs read it because it shows up on film all the time. A top-notch linebacker like Derrick Johnson won't miss that very often.

Second quarter, 1:57, Patriots 7-3: Kyle Arrington picked off his NFL-best sixth pass of the season and had a nice return to set up the Patriots at their 46. Rob Ninkovich absolutely destroyed Tyler Palko from the blind side on a free rush, and Steve Breaston couldn't hold the off-target throw, which was tipped and landed in Arrington's hands. Kyle Love also got a loud cheer for knocking the crap out of Ryan Lilja during the return. Big chance for the Pats to crush the Chiefs before the half here.

Second quarter, 4:18, Patriots 7-3: And there it is, a miserable first half has been wiped out by a 52-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, who broke free into the secondary and beat the solo safety to the end zone. The play was reviewed briefly, but it obviously stood because Gronkowski stayed inbounds up the sideline.

The Chiefs have taken a page out of the Jets' defensive playbook here. They're lining up extremely wide over the tackles to narrow Tom Brady's sightlines toward the middle of the field. And when they try to stack the middle of the passing zone, it can create some problems for Brady as he tries to get through his reads. Of course, it doesn't help that the offensive line has played like crap so far.

Ryan Wendell took over at center for Dan Connolly on that series. Not sure if it's due to performance or injury, but they've rotated for each reason so far this season. (Update: Connolly has a groin injury, and his return is questionable. He's been dealing with that all week.)

Second quarter, 7:36, Chiefs 3-0: Those who expected Julian Edelman to be the best defensive player on that series, raise your hand. Edelman drew a holding call that negated a third-down conversion and then tackled Jeremy Horne on the following play to force a punt. New England takes over at its own 15. I think I'm starting to get a beat on the Chiefs' defensive strategy, and I'll relay it after this series.

Second quarter, 9:30, Chiefs 3-0: I figured this game would be fairly one-sided, but…

The Chiefs are abusing the Patriots in all three phases. All of them. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston both beat their tackles — Sebastian Vollmer and Matt Light, respectively — and Hali got an easy sack on a three-man rush. That's got to be embarrassing for the offensive line, which got booed after the play.

The Chiefs take over at the New England 45 after the punt.

There was also a "Let's go Bruins" chant breaking out in the crowd during the change of possession.

Second quarter, 12:03, Chiefs 3-0: Mark Anderson's sack helped bail out the defense after Antwaun Molden was burned by Dwayne Bowe for 28 yards down the right sideline, and the Pats will take over at their 6 after the punt.

Julian Edelman has gotten a lot of time on defense, which is just baffling to me. Then again, I can't give him much of a grade because the Chiefs aren't testing him for some reason. I watched him stand freely in space on two zone assignments on the last possession, and no one ran near him. How are the Chiefs not sending their playmakers in his direction? I don't care who they've got at quarterback.

Second quarter, 14:49, Chiefs 3-0: Wow, Tom Brady got smoked from behind by Wallace Gilberry, who is starting in place of Glenn Dorsey, and Brady fumbled it away in field-goal range. The Chiefs took over at their own 27.

The Chiefs are attacking on defense, and the Patriots simply aren't picking it up. A lot of that is on Brady's pre-snap recognition.

First quarter, 1:24, Chiefs 3-0: The Chiefs failed on a surprise onside kick, which didn't travel 10 yards. Ryan Succop pooched it almost immediately after spotting the ball, and he just couldn't get enough on it.

It looked like the Patriots were prepared for it, as they should be. You knew the Chiefs would try some weird stuff in this game.

First quarter, 1:30, Chiefs 3-0: And the Chiefs have a lead. Ryan Succop kicked a 26-yard field goal for the first points of the game. The Chiefs are having their way on the ground so far, opening holes to the outside of the line on draws and misdirections, and the linebackers and safeties have been guilty of taking poor angles to the ball.

Andre Carter was not credited with a sack on second-and-goal there because it was ruled that Tyler Palko was running with the ball, just so you know.

First quarter, 6:42, 0-0: The Chiefs have controlled this game so far in all three phases, but it remains scoreless. The Patriots picked up one first down, but Tom Brady has missed on four of his first five passes, and the Chiefs are getting some good pressure in the backfield. Then, Javier Arenas' 25-yard punt return put the Chiefs at their 47 to start the next drive. Someone up front has to make a play for this New England defense.

This is a case of letting a young, depleted team hang around and build confidence, and it's dangerous for the Patriots to let that happen.

First quarter, 8:48, 0-0: The Chiefs moved across midfield but had to punt away. I couldn't tell if they were legitimately going for it on fourth down or if they tried to draw the Patriots offsides, but they took a delay of game. Credit Jerod Mayo with a great read and burst through the line to make a third-and-1 stop.

James Ihedigbo left early in the series with a shoulder injury, apparently to the left arm. That's been a tough injury for him. He jogged off the field and went to the locker room almost immediately.

And with that, you've got to wonder what Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders are thinking as they watch this game from home and see Sterling Moore and Ross Ventrone playing safety for the Patriots.

First quarter, 12:38, 0-0: BenJarvus Green-Ellis dropped a first-down pass, and the Patriots missed a blocking assignment on third down, causing Tom Brady to throw it away and get called for grounding.

Matthew Slater drew a block in the back on the punt to back up the Chiefs to their own 20. I could see the hold and the block in the back from the press box on the other side of the stadium, but the official closest to the play missed it all. Always good when that happens.

First quarter, 13:36, 0-0: The Chiefs went three-and-out, and Tyler Palko's second-down pass was nearly intercepted in the left flat by Andre Carter. Julian Edelman was lined up on defensive on third down. There are some things I'll just never understand.

First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The opening kickoff went for a touchback. Sterling Moore and James Ihedigbo started at safety. Antwaun Molden gets the start for Devin McCourty.

By the way, Palko's college roommate was Larry Fitzgerald. Just found that out.

8:36 p.m.: The Chiefs called tails and won the toss, and they elected to receive the opening kickoff. The Tyler Palko era is about to begin.

8:33 p.m.: Just a few minutes from kickoff here at Gillette Stadium. The only way the Chiefs win this game is if they generate at least two scores on defense or special teams. No way Tyler Palko scores enough to hang with Tom Brady.

8:13 p.m.: The Patriots have completed their pregame warmups, and the most noticeable thing was that Marcus Cannon took his reps at right tackle. His long-term position in New England figures to be at right guard based on the team's need, but I still think his most immediate work would come at tackle, if he gets any work at all.

7:17 p.m.: Defensive end Andre Carter, who primarily lines up on the defensive right side, told me this week he won't switch to the left side to do work on Tyler Palko's blind side. Carter said it's just best to keep doing what has worked to this point.

7:01 p.m.: The Patriots' defense will be short-handed against the Chiefs. Cornerback Devin McCourty, safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Brandon Spikes, linebacker Dane Fletcher, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, running back Kevin Faulk and quarterback Ryan Mallett are inactive Monday night. Just a few minutes ago, I was wondering why I hadn't seen Faulk warming up yet, and now we know why.

None of those players were game-time decisions, by the way, which is interesting in Chung's case because he was a game-time call last week.

6:54 p.m.: Tyler Palko has an ugly throwing motion. It's got a hitch, and it takes him a while to release the ball. I can't comment on his accuracy because everyone looks accurate in pregame warmups, but his throwing motion fell out of the ugly tree and his every branch on the way down.

6:52 p.m.: Pretty cool scene a few minutes ago: Steve Young and Trent Dilfer were having a throwing contest and trying to hit the crossbar from various spots on the field. Both hit from the 20-yard line, and Young then hit it from the 25. No one could hit from the 30-yard line.

6:29 p.m.: BenJarvus Green-Ellis was warming up earlier, just doing a little jogging. There weren't any trainers monitoring him, so there's no real need to be concerned about the toe injury he's been fighting.

The inactive list is due out in a half hour, and Green-Ellis and the specialists have been the only Patriots on the field to this point. If there are any game-time decisions, I'd expect to see them on the field in 10-15 minutes.

6:15 p.m.: Former Patriots and Chiefs cornerback Ty Law is on the field saying hi to some people. Law, of course, had one of the greatest plays in the history of the New England franchise, returning an interception for a touchdown to get the Pats on the board in Super Bowl XXXVI.

6:05 p.m.: Of the things I didn't expect to see, Trent Dilfer just walked away from the Monday Night Football set to shake Tyler Palko's hand about 60 yards away as Palko was warming up on the field. Dilfer is in a full suit and holding a coffee, and Palko is getting ready for his first NFL start.

5:51 p.m.: The Chiefs have officially placed quarterback Matt Cassel on injured reserve, ending his season on his would-be return to Gillette Stadium.

The Chiefs considered bringing Cassel to New England for the game, but he didn't make the trip, according to their public relations crew.

5:34 p.m.: I've arrived at Gillette Stadium, and there are a few notes to pass along at the moment. First, NFL Network reported earlier Monday that cornerback Devin McCourty would not play due to his shoulder injury. Since McCourty was listed as doubtful, I think we already knew he wouldn't be suiting up. While it's obviously not great news, it'll give some of the unproven players a chance to gain some valuable experience against a quarterback making his first career start.

Also, the Patriots promoted safety Ross Ventrone to the active roster, marking the 22nd transaction of his career. In turn, they released offensive lineman Donald Thomas, who is an interior lineman with the majority of his experience at guard. This might be a good sign for Dan Connolly, who is dealing with a groin issue.

The bigger news, though, could involve offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, who was promoted to the active roster this week. He might have an opportunity to play in his first game, which would be a very welcomed surprise.

8 a.m. ET: It's time for the Patriots to put a stranglehold on the division. After a huge victory against the Jets, the Patriots can create some late-season momentum with a soft schedule and set their sights on their ninth AFC East title since 2001.

With a victory against the reeling Chiefs, the Patriots would have a two-game lead over the Jets and Bills with just six games remaining. They'd also maintain their AFC-low three losses.

This might be the mismatch of them all, too, as three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady takes on Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko, who was cut by a UFL team two years ago.

Of course, there will be plenty to discuss throughout the day, so make sure to stay with NESN.com's live blog for complete coverage of this nationally televised affair.

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