Final, Chiefs 42-27: A night that began with a celebration ended in a humbling loss for the defending champion New England Patriots, who were overwhelmed by the Kansas City Chiefs in the opener of the 2017 NFL season.
Alex Smith threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns, rookie Kareem Hunt racked up 246 all-purpose yards and three scores, and the Chiefs hung 537 yards of total offense on the Patriots, the most they have allowed in the Bill Belichick era.
It was the first time the Patriots had allowed 40 points in a game since 2014, when, coincidentally, they lost 41-14 to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Tom Brady completed just 16 of 36 passes for 267 yards and no touchdowns as the Patriots’ offense struggled with Julian Edelman. Danny Amendola led all New England receivers with six catches for 100 yards but left in the second half with a head injury.
The Patriots will look to get back on track next Sunday when they visit the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.
Fourth quarter, 2:44, Chiefs 42-27: Two sacks and a three-and-out. Chiefs ball.
Fourth quarter, 4:00, Chiefs 42-27: Well, so much for that.
Kareem Hunt, who’s been fantastic tonight in his NFL debut, reeled off a 58-yard run down the sideline on the first play of the drive, and Charcandrick West took a handoff 21 yards to paydirt on the next play.
It appears the Patriots’ quest for 19-0 will end on the first night of the season.
Fourth quarter, 4:15, Chiefs 35-27: Brady was sacked on first down, and the Patriots could not recover, resulting in a three-and-out.
The Pats’ defense needs a stop here or this game is over.
Fourth quarter, 5:14, Chiefs 35-27: Touchdown, Chiefs. The Patriots are in real trouble.
Alex Smith is playing out of his mind tonight (28 of 35, 368 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, 148.6 rating), and Kareem Hunt now is up to three touchdowns after taking a toss in for a 4-yard score.
The Patriots now need a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie this game.
Fourth quarter, 8:55, Chiefs 28-27: A quick Patriots drive ended in another punt. Chiefs ball.
Fourth quarter, 10:28, Chiefs 28-27: Devin McCourty upended Travis Kelce to stop the Chiefs tight end just shy of the first-down marker on third-and-8 forcing Kansas City to punt.
That’s the good news for the Patriots. The not-so-good news is that Danny Amendola has been knocked out of the game with a head injury. Safety Patrick Chung filled in for Amendola as the Patriots’ punt returner, and Phillip Dorsett is in at receiver to begin this drive.
Dorsett, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan now are the Patriots’ only healthy wide receivers.
Fourth quarter, 12:21, Chiefs 28-27: For the second time tonight, Mike Gillislee was stuffed on fourth-and-1. The Patriots turn the ball over on downs.
Fourth quarter, 14:07, Chiefs 28-27: The Chiefs opened the fourth quarter with a bang, and now they’re back in the lead.
Kareem Hunt released out of the backfield, burned linebacker Cassius Marsh, caught a pass down the seam and took it the distance for a 78-yard touchdown.
Marsh was in the game because Dont’a Hightower remains sidelined with a knee injury. Hunt has victimized backup a backup linebacker (Marsh and Jordan Richards) on each of his two touchdown receptions.
Third quarter, 0:09, Patriots 27-21: There’s the Tom Brady-to-Brandin Cooks deep ball we’ve been waiting to see.
Cooks hauled in a 54-yard bomb from Brady on the first play of New England’s latest drive, toasting Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines in the play. Gaines was called for defensive holding, to boot, which the Patriots declined.
The Pats were unable to find the end zone this time, however, settling for a 35-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Third quarter, 2:50, Patriots 24-21: After surviving back-to-back running into the kicker penalties, the Patriots’ offense heads back onto the field.
Third quarter, 5:01, Patriots 24-21: The Patriots quickly responded to reclaim the lead.
A 22-yard completion to Danny Amendola and a drawn pass interference by Brandin Cooks gave New England the ball at the Kansas City 1, and Mike Gillislee plowed his way into the end zone on the following play for his third touchdown of the night.
Amendola now is up to 100 receiving yards on the night, his first 100-yard effort since Nov. 23, 2015. Cooks only has two catches, but he’s also drawn two penalties at the goal line.
Third quarter, 6:53, Chiefs 21-17: Uh-oh. Dont’a Hightower is down.
Chiefs center Mitch Morse fell on Hightower’s right knee from the side, and the linebacker remained down on the field for several moments. He eventually walked off the field under the watchful eyes of team trainers and headed straight to the sideline medical tent.
It goes without saying that losing Hightower, the Patriots’ defensive leader, would be disastrous for New England.
Pass breakups by Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore helped force a Kansas City three-and-out.
Third quarter, 7:08, Chiefs 21-17: Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski on a big third-down conversion, but the Patriots again came away from their latest drive with zero points.
Tom Brady was forced to fire the ball into the ground on a failed flea flicker, and Danny Amendola nearly was broken in half by Justin Houston on a third-down incompletion.
After their torrid start, the Patriots have not been able to get much going offensively.
Third quarter, 9:19, Chiefs 21-17: The Patriots trail for the first time tonight thanks to a 75-yard scoring strike from Alex Smith to Tyreek Hill.
New England’s defense had some serious miscommunication on the play, as Stephon Gilmore appeared to believe he was in zone coverage as Hill breezed past him. The lightning-quick wideout was wide open when he caught the ball, and no Patriots player came close to catching him.
Third quarter, 9:28, Patriots 17-14: The Patriots’ first drive of the third quarter went nowhere. Tyreek Hill fumbled Ryan Allen’s punt but recovered it himself, and Daniel Sorensen was called for unsportsmanlike conduct in the ensuing scrum.
The Chiefs now have nine penalties for 78 yards, while the Patriots have just two for 35 yards.
Third quarter, 11:53, Patriots 17-14: A holding call on first down helped force a Chiefs punt on the opening drive of the second half. Malcolm Butler made a nice play to Tyreek Hill just short of the marker on third down.
Of note: We’ve yet to see Patriots linebacker David Harris tonight.
Halftime, Patriots 17-14: The Patriots bring just a three-point lead into the locker after Alex Smith led the Chiefs on a touchdown drive in the closing minutes of the first half.
Smith found rookie running back Kareem Hunt for a 3-yard score to cap the 12-play, 92-yard drive. Hunt outran Jordan Richards, got a late jump from his spot at middle linebacker and couldn’t catch up to the rookie running back.
Richards, usually a reserve safety, has been played linebacker throughout the first half, with mixed results. He was at fault on that touchdown, but he’s also forced a fumble, drawn a hold and tallied three tackles.
Second quarter, 2:47, Patriots 17-7: The Patriots went three-and-out for the first time tonight, but a holding penalty by Kansas City on its punt return will force the Chiefs to begin their drive at their own 8-yard line.
Second quarter, 3:44, Patriots 17-7: The Chiefs were able to pick up one first down but nothing more before punting it away to the Patriots.
Alex Smith slipped to the ground in the backfield on third-and-5, and because Deatrich Wise was the first Patriots player to touch him, the rookie defensive end was credited with his first NFL sack.
De’Anthony Thomas was called for kick catch interference for making early contact with Danny Amendola, giving the Patriots a free 15 yards of field position. They’ll start this drive at their own 40.
Second quarter, 7:27, Patriots 17-7: Welcome to The Mike Gillislee Show.
The Patriots running back carried the ball six times for 37 yards on New England’s latest drive, which culminated in his second 2-yard rushing touchdown of the night.
Tom Brady also hit Danny Amendola for 22 yards and Rob Gronkowski for 16 yards on the drive. Amendola leads all receivers with four catches for 70 yards. He topped 70 just once all last season: in Super Bowl LI.
Second quarter, 13:17, Patriots 10-7: A personal foul on special teamer Brandon King allowed the Chiefs to begin their drive at their own 45-yard line, but the Patriots’ defense made sure it was a brief one.
Devin McCourty broke up a pass on first down and made a nice tackle to stuff Tyreek Hill at the line on second down. A sack by Trey Flowers on third down forced a Kansas City punt.
For those wondering, Danny Amendola returned the punt, fair-catching the ball at his own 18.
Second quarter, 14:56, Patriots 10-7: Facing a fourth-and-1 for the second time tonight, the Patriots called on Stephen Gostkowski, who booted a 25-yard chip shot to put the Patriots back in the lead.
James White leads all Patriots rushers so far with six carries for 30 yards, and he implanted Terrance Mitchell into the ground with a ruthless stiff arm during this latest series.
First quarter, 3:03, 7-7: What looked like a potential blowout in the making now is a tie game.
After fumbling on their first play of the night, the Chiefs turned their second drive into a 12-play, 90-yard touchdown march that took 6:22 to complete. Alex Smith capped it off by finding tight end Demetrius Harris for a 7-yard score.
It was a rough series for the Patriots’ defense, which forced just one third down.
The drive also featured a bit of trickeration in the form of a direct snap to tight end Travis Kelce.
First quarter, 9:24, Patriots 7-0: Rob Gronkowski appeared to haul in a ridiculous diving touchdown catch on third-and-11, but it was overturned after a video review.
A penalty on the play made it third-and-6, and the Patriots proceeded to pick up an additional 5 yards on a slant to Danny Amendola. It wasn’t quite enough to pick up a first down, though, and Mike Gillislee was stuffed on fourth-and-1 to turn the ball over on downs.
That was a very important stop by the Chiefs’ defense. Safety Eric Berry, who has been laying the wood tonight, helped stop Gillislee in his tracks.
First quarter, 12:00, Patriots 7-0: Kareem Hunt’s NFL career isn’t off to a great star.
The Chiefs rookie running back fumbled on Kansas City’s first offensive play, giving the ball back to the Patriots in prime field position. Jordan Richards, who was on the roster bubble all summer, forced the fumble, and Devin McCourty recovered.
First quarter, 12:08, Patriots 7-0: Well, that was easy.
The Patriots marched 73 yards down the field in 2:52 to score the first touchdown of the NFL season. Tom Brady completed 3 of 5 passes (one of his incompletions was a throwaway) for 43 yards, and Mike Gillislee plunged into the end zone from 2 yards out on his first carry as a Patriot.
Brady found newcomer Brandin Cooks for 19 yards on one completion and drew a defensive pass interference call when targeting Cooks at the goal line later in the drive. The Patriots are picking on cornerbacks Phillip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell so far — a smart idea when All-Pro Marcus Peters is patrolling the other side of the field.
Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and James White all touched the ball on the opening drive.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The ceremony is over. The banner has been unveiled. It’s time to play football.
The Chiefs won the opening coin toss and deferred. It’ll be Patriots ball to begin the 2017 season.
8:06 p.m.: As he has since he returned from the physically unable to perform list, Dont’a Hightower is working with the defensive ends in warmups rather than with the linebackers.
The linebacker group is lean tonight — just David Harris, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Marquis Flowers and Brandon King, who only plays on special teams.
7:50 p.m.: Tom Brady has arrived.
The pregame banner ceremony is set to begin in roughly 10 minutes.
7:39 p.m.: The Patriots’ specialists have taken the field.
Danny Amendola, Patrick Chung and Chris Hogan are practicing returning punts. No Phillip Dorsett. Hogan has not returned a punt in his NFL career.
Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are working as kick returners.
7:39 p.m.: Roger Goodell just walked onto the field. You can probably guess how he was received.
7:13 p.m.: The Patriots have announced their inactives for tonight’s game. Their four new trade acquisitions — Phillip Dorsett, Cassius Marsh, Johnson Bademosi and Marquis Flowers — all are active.
Expect Marsh, Bademosi and Flowers to see time on special teams with Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner and Shea McClellin (injured reserve) sidelined. Dorsett likely will be New England’s fourth receiver and could be used as a punt returner, too.
7 p.m.: A handful of Patriots players have filtered onto the field over the past half-hour to warm up, including newcomers Cassius Marsh and Phillip Dorsett.
Dorsett already has his game pants on, indicating he’ll likely be active tonight. That’s no surprise given the Patriots’ lack of available wide receivers, but it will be interesting to see how much the team uses him tonight.
Rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise, who missed the final three preseason games after sustaining a concussion in the preseason opener, also is on the field in game pants. He’s currently schooling the goal post with his pass-rush moves.
6:50 p.m.: Miss tonight’s Patriots pregame show? No worries. You can watch the whole thing right here:
5:10 p.m.: Another Patriots receiver is headed to injured reserve.
According to multiple reports, the team plans to place Malcolm Mitchell on IR and promote offensive lineman Ted Karras from the practice squad. Mitchell has been banged up all summer and was questionable for this game with a knee injury.
With Mitchell and Julian Edelman, who tore his ACL in the third preseason game, now unavailable, the Patriots will enter the season with a receiving corps of Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Phillip Dorsett, who joined the team just five days ago.
The Mitchell injury also complicates the Patriots’ already muddled punt return situation. Amendola is by far their most experienced returner, meaning they’ll probably stick with him for the time being. But man, if he gets hurt …
3:30 p.m.: Greetings from Gillette Stadium, where the parking lots are beginning to fill with Patriots fans — and Roger Goodell clown towels.
The towels are the brainchild of Barstool Sports, which manufactured 70,000 of them for tonight’s game. Various bands of volunteers are handing them out in the lots as I type this.
Goodell will be in attendance tonight, but the majority of Patriots fans might not catch a glimpse of him. According to a report from The MMQB’s Kalyn Kahler, the NFL commissioner will wrap up his on-field duties long before kickoff and won’t be shown on the in-stadium video boards during the game.
As we count down the hours until game time, get yourself caught up with some of the top Patriots stories from past few days:
— Doug Kyed’s mailbag: Why Chris Hogan could be primed for a monster season
— Former Bills coach Rex Ryan laments losing Hogan to the Patriots
— Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine is doubtful for tonight’s game, and six other Patriots are questionable
— Tom Brady texted Isaiah Thomas after the ex-Celtics star stunningly was traded to Cleveland
— How summer standout Adam Butler found out he made the Patriots’ 53-man roster
— An NFL investigation found no evidence that Brady suffered a concussion last season
— One year after being traded here, cornerback Eric Rowe opens up about his difficult transition to the Patriots
— Defensive end Trey Flowers is the NFL’s most bashful breakout candidate
— The Patriots’ 2017 captains include two first-timers: safety Duron Harmon and center David Andrews
— Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is getting up to speed after his trade from the Colts
— Fellow newcomer Cassius Marsh explains what Patriots fans can expect from him
— The Patriots have come a long way since their last regular-season meeting with the Chiefs
— Brady, Bill Belichick and Rob Gronkowski all admitted they’ll feel butterflies entering tonight
— Linebacker Dont’a Hightower takes pride in his pass-rushing versatility
— Danny Amendola sounds like he wants to be the Patriots’ top punt returner
11:30 a.m. ET: We’re just about nine hours away from kickoff on opening day of the 2017 NFL season.
Tonight, the New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium in a battle of the AFC’s top two seeds last season.
New England, reloaded following the offseason acquisitions of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore, will unveil its Super Bowl LI banner in what should be a raucous pregame ceremony.
Once that’s finished, the Patriots will look to shut down a talented Chiefs team led by receiver/return man Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, linebacker Justin Houston and defensive backs Marcus Peters and Eric Berry.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET. Stay tuned for NESN.com’s Patriots pregame show at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live and YouTube, and be sure to check back here throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images