An already long day for the New England Patriots may feel be a bit longer on their plane ride home after a Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday.
As you’ve certainly heard by now, the Patriots had their game postponed from Sunday to Monday due to quarterback Cam Newton testing positive for COVID-19. The team revealed the news Saturday, the day they were originally scheduled to travel to Kansas City.
Instead, and after a number of league-mandated tests throughout the next three days, the Patriots started a 22-hour work day Monday. They woke up in New England, traveled by team bus to the airport and then boarded two different planes for Kansas City. They had a few hours to kill at a Kansas City hotel before being bused to Arrowhead for the 7 p.m. ET kickoff. Now, fresh off their 26-10 loss to the Chiefs, the Patriots will head back home to New England.
Patriot players, however, were the first to say they wouldn’t be using that as an excuse for their loss to the defending Super Bowl champions.
?Yeah, it was unique. I?ll say that. It was unique, but I certainly don?t want to use it as an excuse, nor does anyone else on this team,” special teams captain Matthew Slater told reporters during a video conference. “The first time I?ve done that in 13 years, playing in the National Football League. But look, anytime you get a chance to take the field, and they give you a uniform and a helmet, you go out there and try to make the best of it. That?s what we tried to do today. I certainly hope this isn?t something we don?t have to do again. I know a lot of us are creatures of habit and our routines were thrown off. But again, I don?t want to use that as an excuse. We just didn?t make enough plays today. It was a tough outing for us.”
It was an especially tough outing for quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was benched in the fourth quarter for fellow signal-caller Jarrett Stidham. Hoyer, though, shared a similar outlook, expressing that he wouldn’t be blaming his performance on the situation.
“I mean look, it is what it is. I think a lot of people in 2020 are dealing with a lot of crazy things, ups and downs. We signed up for this and this is just the way it played out,” Hoyer said. “Regardless of the situation, that had nothing to do with those two plays, I just got to do a better job.”
Patriots running back Damien Harris, who rushed for 100 yards in his 2020 debut, noted that entering the season, players knew these strange circumstances could play out.
“It was a weird situation, something we hadn?t dealt with before, but we knew coming into the season it was a possibility. So, I think that our job was just to be ready for it. And it happened, and it was what it was,” Harris said. “… Obviously, we wanted to come down here and play this game so we took all the initiatives and the right steps to try and get ourselves down here to play a good game.”
Of course, when Newton tested positive it brought the situation much closer to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots had just seen it evolve with the Tennessee Titans days prior, so it undoubtedly made a few players feel unsettled.
Slater, though, expressed that he was happy to see everyone else on the team continue to test negative.
“I’ll say this, first and foremost, we?re praying for Cam and his health, and hope he?s doing well. I?d also like to thank the bio reference lab folks,” Slater said. “We really appreciate all the work they?ve done to help us navigate this process.
“I think a lot of us just wanted to make sure we were healthy and we didn?t pass anything along to our families,” he continued. “That was the primary concern for a lot of guys. Thankfully, everyone has continued to be healthy throughout the testing, hopefully it stays that way. We tried to make the best of the circumstances that we were dealt today, proud of the way the guys came out and competed. We just got to be better.”
The Patriots drop back to 2-2 as they get ready to host the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.