The last time the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs in a regular-season game, the result was the lowest point in recent franchise history.
The Chiefs embarrassed the Patriots on “Monday Night Football,” winning 41-14 in front of a frenzied Arrowhead Stadium crowd to drop New England’s record to 2-2 a quarter of the way through the 2014 season.
Quarterback Tom Brady, who’d endured a down season in 2013, was downright bad, throwing two interceptions — including a pick-six — and fumbling twice before being benched in favor of rookie Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if he would “consider evaluating the quarterback situation,” a question that sounds ludicrous three years later but was fair at the time.
Yeah, it was that bad.
“I can’t think of too many teams that have handled us better than the way they handled us in 2014,” Belichick said Tuesday of the Chiefs, against whom the Patriots will open the 2017 regular season Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
Of course, a whole lot has changed since that September night in Kansas City. Brady has re-established himself as arguably the NFL’s best quarterback, and the Patriots have won two Super Bowl titles in three years.
Since that Week 4 loss, New England has gone 36-8 in regular-season games and 7-1 in the playoffs, including a 27-20 win over the Chiefs in the 2015 divisional round.
The Arrowhead beatdown is such a distant memory for the Patriots that Belichick refused to discuss the game further after mentioning it in his Tuesday morning news conference.
“In all honesty, I mean, I don’t really care about that,” Belichick said. “I don’t care about 2014 right now. I’m just worrying about Thursday night. This team is this team, and the 2017 Chiefs team is the 2017 Chiefs team.
“Whatever’s relevant from previous games (against Andy Reid’s teams) in Philadelphia or Kansas City, ‘14, ‘15, ‘07, ‘11 — whatever years they were — that is what it is. But really, the focus is on this game. I’m not really too concerned about 2014 right now.”
The Patriots, who enter Week 1 as overwhelming Super Bowl favorites, are looking to become the first team to repeat as champion since they did so themselves following the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images