Patriots Notes: Finding Bright Spots In New England’s Ugly Loss To Chiefs

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets as we process exactly how the New England Patriots were beaten so badly by the Kansas City Chiefs in Thursday night’s season opener:

— First, a positive: Mike Gillislee scored three touchdowns in his Patriots debut, plowing into the end zone twice from 2 yards out and once from 1 yard out. He finished with 45 yards on 15 carries in the 42-27 loss and should see plenty of work as New England’s goal-line back this season.

“Mike ran really hard,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “We’re going to need that all season from him. He ran hard.”

However, Gillislee was stopped in his tracks on two fourth-and-1 carries. It was surprising to see the Patriots opt for a traditional running play in both of those situations rather than a quarterback sneak — one of Brady’s specialties.

“We ran the play that we thought was the best,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “I’m sure everybody has another play that could’ve been run. We did what we thought was best. It didn’t work out.”

James White finished with 10 carries for 38 yards, Rex Burkhead rushed three times for 10 yards and Dion Lewis carried the ball twice for 9 yards.

— We here at NESN.com were predicting a big game from Chris Hogan. Boy, were we wrong.

Despite the fact that New England entered the game with just four wide receivers and were down to three after Danny Amendola left with a head injury, Hogan caught just one pass on five targets for 8 yards. The Patriots tried to get him involved with a few end-arounds and jet sweeps (three carries, 17 yards), but overall, he was not much of a factor.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski was similarly ineffective, finishing with just two receptions on six targets for 33 yards. He appeared to score a touchdown that would have put the Patriots ahead 14-0 early in the game, but it was overturned after a video review.

“That was a disappointing play,” Brady said. “I mean, that would have been a big play in the game.”

— Amendola, meanwhile, was in the midst of one of his best games as a Patriot before he was sidelined with a head injury late in the third quarter. He was Brady’s favorite target, catching six passes on seven targets for 100 yards — his first 100-yard performance since Nov. 23, 2015.

His injury puts the Patriots in a real bind. Hogan, Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett are their only healthy receivers (Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell both are on injured reserve), and New England doesn’t have a single proven punt returner on its roster with Amendola out.

Patrick Chung handled those duties late in the game, fair-catching the only punt he fielded.

— Cooks had a strong game despite finishing with just three catches on seven targets. His catches went for 15, 19 and 54 yards, and he also drew several pass interference and defensive holding penalties. Two of those infractions occurred at the goal line and set up Gillislee’s first two touchdown rushes.

“Cookie made a lot of plays, drew I think four or five pass interference penalties, along with his receptions,” Brady said.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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