FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady said the Patriots "sucked" in the first half Monday against the Chiefs, but they still managed to thump Kansas City by a 34-3 margin. It was New England's second straight win, and the Patriots have a two-game lead in the AFC East.
It's time to break out the grades.
Jeff Howe: B-
Rob Gronkowski was a one-man wrecking crew, but the rest of the offense was out of sync through a large chunk of the game. Still, they managed to post 27 points against a tough defense.
Jeff Howe: A
It's not the defense's fault the Chiefs weren't starting Joe Montana. They executed their game plan against Tyler Palko and had as many sacks and turnovers as points allowed. That's always a good thing.
Jeff Howe: A-
The coverage units weren't great, but special teams will also get high marks when they generate a touchdown.
Jeff Howe: A-
A couple things here: First, some players made it sound like they had a difficult time preparing for an unfamiliar, ever-changing Chiefs team, and that played into the slow start. So credit the coaching staff for the in-game adjustments. Second, while the Patriots didn't exactly face a monumental challenge in Palko, they were also playing without Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Brandon Spikes, and they still held Kansas City to three points.
Jeff Howe: C-
Give the Chiefs a nod for playing a very solid first half, but they were junk in the second half. But really, they had no chance with Palko.
Jeff Howe: Tight end Rob Gronkowski
His 52-yard touchdown erased a miserable first half for New England, and he's been the best tight end in the NFL this season. I believed that last month, but he really drove that point home Monday.
Jeff Howe: Cornerback Kyle Arrington and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon
Arrington didn't fly under the radar because he had two interceptions on national television, but he was important for another reason, and it didn't have anything to do with stepping up without McCourty. Palko, a lefty, would find a natural comfort zone in looking toward Arrington's side of the field (the defensive right), so it was important for Arrington to disrupt his assignments.
Of course, Cannon's story is well-known by now, and he made his NFL debut Monday night, and he was excited about it because no one really knew it was going to happen.