FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore drew the “easy” assignment Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs. That was just covering $16 million wide receiver (and Gilmore’s former Buffalo Bills teammate) Sammy Watkins.
Watkins caught just two passes for 18 yards. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes had little interest in targeting Watkins with Gilmore following the big wideout around the field. Of course, Mahomes had other talented options at his disposal, and he wound up throwing for 352 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions while staying away from Gilmore.
Here are this week’s takeaways from New England’s exhilarating 43-40 win over the Chiefs.
CB Jason McCourty: five catches on eight targets for 112 yards, TD, PBU
FS Duron Harmon: 2-3, 79 yards, TD, INT
LB Dont’a Hightower: 5-8, 56 yards, INT
SS Patrick Chung: 4-4, 51 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 3-4, 23 yards, two TDs
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-4, 18 yards, PBU
LB Kyle Van Noy: 1-1, 7 yards
CB Jonathan Jones: 1-2, 6 yards
— Jason McCourty let up a 67-yard touchdown reception to running back Kareem Hunt. McCourty’s phenomenal start to his Patriots career hit a hiccup Sunday night, but he’s still allowing just a 71.7 passer rating against this season.
— Harmon technically allowed Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard touchdown, but he should have had more help in zone coverage.
— Devin McCourty allowed 14- and 1-yard touchdown catches by Hill. On the 1-yarder, McCourty collided with Jones on a pick route.
— Gilmore was probably the Patriots’ best defender on the night. He was definitely their best coverage player, though Chung also fared well against All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce.
— Cornerback Eric Rowe was on the field for 16 coverage snaps but wasn’t targeted.
DE Adrian Clayborn: two QB hits, two hurries
DE Trey Flowers: three hurries
LB Dont’a Hightower: QB hit, hurry
DT Adam Butler: QB hit, hurry
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: two hurries
DT Lawrence Guy: hurry
LB Kyle Van Noy: hurry
DT Danny Shelton: hurry
FS Duron Harmon: hurry
— The Patriots generated pressure on just 44.7 percent of Mahomes’ dropbacks and didn’t record a single sack.
— Hightower, Flowers and Clayborn did bring pressure at opportune times. Hightower forced an interception and recorded a pick of his own that led to a Patriots touchdown. Flowers and Clayborn forced an incompletion on third-and-long.
CB Jason McCourty: three stops*
DE Trey Flowers: two stops, missed tackle
SS Patrick Chung: two stops
LB Elandon Roberts: two stops, missed tackle
DT Lawrence Guy: stop
LB Dont’a Hightower: stop
CB Stephon Gilmore: stop
CB Jonathan Jones: stop
DE Derek Rivers: stop
LB Kyle Van Noy: three missed tackles
*Stops constitute a “loss” for the offense
— The Chiefs barely ran the ball Sunday night. Hunt only carried the ball 10 times, and Kansas City had 17 total carries for 94 yards. Hunt picked up 53 of his 80 yards on just two rushes.
— Van Noy whiffed on three tackles in the backfield. He and defensive tackle Danny Shelton didn’t make any stops.
— Flowers had the Patriots’ only tackle for loss.
LT Trent Brown: two hurries
RT Marcus Cannon: two hurries
RT LaAdrian Waddle: two hurries
C David Andrews: sack
QB Tom Brady: sack
LG Joe Thuney: QB hit
— Among players who pass protected, right guard Shaq Mason, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen, running backs Sony Michel and James White and fullback James Develin didn’t allow any pressures.
— Brady ate a sack when he held the ball for far too long waiting for his receivers to get open. Brady was stripped on the play, and the Chiefs recovered the fumble.
— Cannon left the game after 50 snaps with a head injury and didn’t return.
— Of Brady’s 11 incompletions, two were drops.
— Brady was 3-of-8 for 98 yards and a touchdown on deep passes.
— Wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski dropped passes. Both had strong games overall, though. Edelman caught a touchdown pass, and Gronkowski had two big catches in the fourth quarter.
— Wide receiver Josh Gordon caught 5-of-9 targets for 42 yards. All five of his catches came on shallow passes of 0-to-9 yards. Brady was 0-for-4 targeting Gordon in the intermediate-to-deep part of the field.
RB Kenjon Barner: two forced missed tackles, 3.67 yards after contact per attempt
RB Sony Michel: one forced missed tackles, 2.54 yards after contact per attempt
RB James White: no forced missed tackles, 2 yards after contact per attempt
— Michel recorded his second 100-yard game in three weeks. He has 316 rushing yards on 67 carries in that span, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Talk of his demise after his two career games was greatly exaggerated, it seems.
— Barner actually gave the offense a spark on his three touches. The Patriots could find a way to get him the ball more.
— White did most of his damage out of the backfield, catching five passes for 53 yards.