FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots almost gave it away. Then Rob Gronkowski happened.
The Patriots nearly squandered a 24-9 first-half lead multiple times in Sunday night’s showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs even stormed back to a 33-30 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Then Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got tight end Rob Gronkowski involved with two long passes for 82 combined yards late in the fourth quarter. Both led to important Patriots field goals.
The first kick increased the Patriots’ lead to 7 points, which the Chiefs quickly erased. The second was the Patriots’ last-second game-winner, a 28-yarder by kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
The Patriots are 4-2 and the Chiefs now are 5-1.
Here’s who helped the Patriots most in their 43-40 win over the Chiefs:
TE ROB GRONKOWSKI
Gronkowski only caught three passes for 97 yards, but timing matters here. The catches came in the moments that mattered most.
RB SONY MICHEL
The Patriots rookie had his third consecutive strong game, carrying the ball 24 times for 106 yards with two touchdowns.
It was his second career 100-yard game, and his third consecutive game with over 90 rushing yards.
Michel got off to a slow start, but he’s looked like a first-round pick over the last three weeks.
WR JULIAN EDELMAN
Edelman caught his first touchdown since returning from a four-game suspension and a torn ACL.
He caught four passes on five targets for 54 yards with a score, and even had one rush for seven yards. He also was charged with an iffy offensive pass interference penalty.
CB STEPHON GILMORE
Gilmore almost erased the Chiefs’ No. 3 passing option, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who had just two catches for 18 yards.
Gilmore allowed those two catches on four targets with a pass breakup.
LB DONT’A HIGHTOWER
Hightower made two big plays early with an interception and a quarterback hit that forced an interception. Hightower also let up some big plays in coverage, but the big plays outweighed the bad ones.
K STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
Gostkowski had some regrettable kickoffs, but he nailed two important field goals for the Patriots late in the fourth quarter.