FOXBORO, Mass. — Some leftover notes and nuggets from a wildly entertaining night of football at Gillette Stadium:
— Sony Michel went off once again for the New England Patriots, carrying the ball 24 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-40 victory over the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
After initially struggling in his return from a preseason knee injury, the rookie running back has been among the NFL’s most productive backs over the past three weeks, racking up 316 rushing yards and four scores in wins over the Miami Dolphins (112 yards), Indianapolis Colts (98 yards) and Chiefs.
He’s the fifth player in Patriots history to rush for 90-plus yards three times in his rookie season and the first to do so since Robert Edwards in 1998.
Yet Michel, who was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a knee injury, still sees room for improvement.
“Everything was the O-line,” he said. “There was holes. It was probably hard (to see) from you guys’ perspective, but there was holes down there. But, yes, we made some plays, but we left yards out there. There were some that I thought could have been even bigger plays, but that’s football.”
One area Michel has improved in is short-yardage situations. His touchdowns against K.C. were plunges from 4 and 1 yards out, and he also converted a 3-and-1 with two minutes remaining and the score tied.
Four plays later, after a 16-yard pass to James White and a 39-yard bomb to Rob Gronkowski, Stephen Gostkowski booted a game-winning 28-yard field goal.
“Sony runs hard,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s picked up a lot of tough yards for us, so that was a big run. … We were able to get it in from the 1-yard line on the goal line and that third-and-1. Those were key situations.”
Asked whether he expected to have this kind of success so early in his career, the first-round draft pick said he’s just excited to be able to help the Patriots win.
“I just expected when I got drafted to the Patriots to win football games,” Michel said. “It’s not really about me. It’s about this team. It’s about, ‘what can I do to help this team?’ If it’s 100 yards, it’s 100 yards. If it’s 2 yards, it’s 2 yards.”
— Gostkowski was a perfect 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts and 4-for-4 on extra points, and the Patriots went the entire game without a punt for just the fifth time in franchise history.
It wasn’t all positive on the special teams front, however. New England gave Kansas City great field position thanks to a botched squib kick (“I’ll put that one on me,” Gostkowski said) and later allowed a 97-yard kickoff return to Tremon Smith that set up a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“Brutal,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said when asked about the return. “I don’t know what happened. We got to look at that on film. But it was bad. I think we’re a lot better than what we’ve played out there, so we better figure it out quick. … We put our team in a tough spot tonight giving up that return and they bailed us out.”
— Wide receiver Chris Hogan enjoyed his best game of the season, catching four passes on four targets for 78 yards, including a 42-yarder that set up a Tom Brady rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Hogan could have finished with an even better stat line, too, as Brady failed to see him wide open in the end zone on a third-quarter incompletion.
“That’s just football,” Hogan said. “You can’t do everything on the field. I just have to make sure that for 60 minutes, I’m going out there and doing my job, running routes the best that I can and trying to get open. When opportunities come my way, I’m going to try to make the play.”
Hogan was unusually quiet in the Patriots’ first five games this season, catching just 11 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns during that span.
— For just the sixth time in franchise history, the Patriots did not commit a single accepted penalty.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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