Final, Chiefs 26-10: The Cam Newton-less Patriots gave the Kansas City Chiefs a scare, but mistakes in pivotal moments foiled New England’s upset bid Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Newton’s replacement, Brian Hoyer, threw an interception, took a costly sack on the final play of the first half and lost a fumble in the red zone before being benched for Jarrett Stidham late in the third quarter.
Stidham threw a touchdown pass on his first drive but had two interceptions of his own, one of which bounced off receiver Julian Edelman’s hands for a pick-six.
The brightest spot for New England’s offense was second-year running back Damien Harris, who rushed for an even 100 yards on 17 carries in his first NFL start.
The Patriots’ defense allowed just six points in the first half but couldn’t hold down Patrick Mahomes and Co. forever. The Chiefs staged back-to-back touchdown drives in the second half that traveled 85 and 75 yards.
Now 2-2, the Patriots will host the Denver Broncos next Sunday at Gillette Stadium. It remains to be seen whether Newton, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, will be available for that game.
Fourth quarter, 2:27, Chiefs 26-10: Jarrett Stidham’s first interception was not his fault. This one was.
Damiere Byrd had Rashad Fenton beat on a post route, but Stidham underthrew him, resulting in what likely was a game-sealing pick.
The Patriots have turned the ball over four times tonight.
Fourth quarter, 8:48, Chiefs 26-10: Julian Edelman’s first drop of the game resulted in an acrobatic catch by Gunner Olszewski.
His second? An easy pick-six for Tyrann Mathieu that likely put this game away.
Fourth quarter, 8:57, Chiefs 19-10: Once again: Make mistakes against the Kansas City Chiefs, and they’ll make you pay.
A defensive pass interference penalty on third-and-10, a late hit one snap later and a botched interception two plays after that helped Kansas City cruise down the field for another touchdown.
Mecole Hardman did the honors, taking a pop pass from Patrick Mahomes 6 yards to paydirt.
Harrison Butker missed the extra point wide left.
Fourth quarter, 13:45, Chiefs 13-10: This game is far from over.
In his first non-garbage-time NFL possession, Jarrett Stidham led the Patriots on a five-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a perfectly placed 4-yard touchdown pass to fellow 2019 draftee N’Keal Harry.
It was Stidham’s first career touchdown pass and his first completion of the season. Three plays earlier, Harry drew a defensive pass interference penalty on a pass into the end zone.
Yet another 2019 draft pick, Damien Harris, kicked the drive into gear with rushes of nine and 41 yards on the opening two plays.
Third quarter, 0:42, Chiefs 13-3: You can’t keep this Chiefs offense out of the end zone forever.
Kansas City turned Hoyer’s fumble into their first touchdown of the night, with Patrick Mahomes flipping a six-yard score to Tyreek Hill after a 45-yard completion to Travis Kelce.
It’s now Jarrett Stidham time for New England. Hoyer has been benched. Let’s see what the second-year pro can do in his first taste of meaningful NFL action.
Third quarter, 3:52, Chiefs 6-3: Brian Hoyer’s best drive of the night ended with another crushing mistake in the red zone.
After taking a sack on the final play of the first half, Hoyer brought the Patriots to the 10-yard line in their second drive of the third quarter, than did this:
Just cannot happen.
Hoyer made two excellent throws earlier in the drive, hitting Julian Edelman for 19 yards and Damiere Byrd for 25. He also scrambled for a first down on third-and-6.
These missed opportunities will wind up costing the Patriots if they don’t start finishing drives soon.
Halftime, Chiefs 6-3: Speaking of mistakes, Brian Hoyer committed an unforgivable one in the final moments of the first half.
After piloting the Patriots into the red zone, Hoyer took a sack on third-and-9 from the 13-yard line. He immediately hopped to his feet and signaled toward the officially, evidently believing the Patriots had a timeout remaining. They did not.
Throw that ball out of bounds, and New England gets a field-goal try to tie the game before halftime. Taking that sack was the worst possible choice Hoyer could have made.
All told, this has been an impressive performance from the undermanned Patriots. But they cannot leave points on the table against an opponent this talented and explosive.
The Patriots will receive the second-half kickoff.
Second quarter, 5:44, Chiefs 6-3: Referees blew two calls that should have gone in the Patriots’ favor when these teams met last December.
They just blew another.
This play was ruled a sack for Chase Winovich, not a fumble or interception:
The Chiefs hurried their punt team onto the field and quickly booted the ball away before Bill Belichick could challenge the play. That’s a big mistake by the officials — and by Belichick, who should have thrown his challenge flag in time.
Second quarter, 9:31, Chiefs 6-3: The Patriots are on the board thanks to this crazy pinball catch by the newly activated Gunner Olszewski:
… a 10-yard dash by Damien Harris and a 17-yard carry by Rex Burkhead.
The drive stalled at the Chiefs’ 25-yard line, forcing the Patriots to settle for a 43-yard Nick Folk field goal. Still, points are points. That’s a start.
Second quarter, 12:46, Chiefs 6-0: Massively important play by Stephon Gilmore, who punched the ball out of Sammy Watkins’ hands two plays after Brian Hoyer’s costly interception.
J.C. Jackson pounced on the fumble, giving the ball back to the Patriots.
Given how this Patriots’ offense is performing, a Chiefs touchdown on that drive might have been too much to come back from. We’ll see if Hoyer can make amends.
One injury update: Jermaine Eluemunor currently is dealing with a migraine and is questionable to return. That explains why Justin Herron got the nod at right tackle tonight.
End first quarter, Chiefs 6-0: The Patriots’ defense is holding its own early. The Patriots’ offense? Well …
That’s an overthrow from Brian Hoyer, who was trying to hit Ryan Izzo up the scene. It’s the second time Hoyer has over thrown the tight end tonight.
It’s Chiefs’ ball at the Patriots’ 23-yard line.
First quarter, 5:00, Chiefs 3-0: Devin McCourty nearly came up with a takeaway on the third play of the game, but he had a would-be interception slip through his hands.
Squandering an opportunity like that against an offense like this is asking for trouble, and Patrick Mahomes proceeded to hook up with Tyreek Hill for 22- and 17-yard gains on consecutive plays.
The Patriots’ defense stiffened in the red zone, though. Anfernee Jennings got pressure on Mahomes to help force one incompletion, and a rare interior blitz by Jason McCourty helped force another on thrid-and-goal, forcing KC to settle for a field goal.
New England’s offense went three-and-out on its first possession, but that series included a few notable wrinkles. Damien Harris got the start at running back, for one, and James Ferentz (center) and Justin Herron (right tackle) both started up front.
Herron getting the nod over Jermaine Eluemunor, who started the first three games, was interesting.
New England’s defense forced a three-and-out of its own on the ensuing drive, the highlight of which came in the form of a crushing hit by Shilique Calhoun on Travis Kelce.
The Patriots picked up one first down on their second drive — on an end-around to Isaiah Zuber, with Brian Hoyer delivering a key lead block — but punted after five plays.
Punter Jake Bailey has been a true weapon thus far. His first two punts have gone for 51 and 48 yards with no return.
First quarter, 15:00, 0-0: The Patriots won the opening coin toss and deferred. The Chiefs will play offense first.
6:35 p.m.: The Patriots’ offensive line in warmups, per Jim McBride of The Boston Globe:
It appears Onwenu will start at right guard, which was his primary position in college.
This will be Froholdt’s first NFL start. In fact, the 2019 fourth-rounder has yet to play his first offensive snap in a regular-season NFL game. He missed his entire rookie year with an injury and has played only on special teams this season.
6 p.m.: The Patriots’ offense looks quite a bit different than it did just a few days ago.
Here’s an updated look at New England’s skill-position groups following the team’s flurry of roster moves:
Damien Harris (activated off IR today)
Gunner Olszewski (activated off IR)
Isaiah Zuber (added to roster as COVID replacement)
Quarterback Cam Newton is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Running back Sony Michel is on injured reserve. Tight end Dalton Keene and receiver Jakobi Meyers are healthy scratches. (Meyers being behind both Olszewski and Zuber in the pecking order is notable.)
The Patriots also are missing two of their five starting offensive linemen with center David Andrews on IR and right guard Shaq Mason inactive. Some potential iOL combinations for tonight:
RG: Eluemunor (with Onwenu at right tackle)
5:35 p.m.: Starting right guard Shaq Mason headlines tonight’s list of Patriots inactives.
Mason was listed as questionable with a calf injury. The Patriots will be down two of their three starting interior offensive linemen, as David Andrews remains on injured reserve.
James Ferentz, Hjalte Froholdt or Justin Herron likely will draw into the lineup in Mason’s stead. Joe Thuney and rookie Mike Onwenu started at center and left guard, respectively, last week, but that alignment could shift tonight. Right guard was Onwenu’s primary position at Michigan, so he could slot into Mason’s spot.
The Patriots did receive some good news on this front, however, as Chiefs star defensive tackle Chris Jones is inactive with a groin injury. Jones wrecked Ferentz when these teams met last season and sacked Lamar Jackson twice last Monday.
Other inactive notes:
— Meyers, Keene and Bryant all are healthy scratches. The Patriots opted to go with Gunner Olszewski and Isaiah Zuber over Meyers, who’s played sparingly this season. Keene and Bryant have yet to make their NFL debuts.
— Active for the first time this season: Olszewski, running back Damien Harris, quarterback Jarrett Stidham and offensive tackle Korey Cunningham.
— Rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings draws back in after sitting out last week as a healthy scratch.
5 p.m. ET: After a weekend unlike any in franchise history, the New England Patriots will square off against the Kansas City Chiefs tonight at Arrowhead Stadium.
This game, of course, originally was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. That changed after starting quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first Patriots player to land on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Patriots flew to Kansas City this morning and will fly home after the game — an unusually daunting travel schedule — and, with Newton unavailable, are expected to start veteran Brian Hoyer behind center.
Hoyer, who turns 35 next week, is in his third stint with New England, but this will be his first start in a Patriots uniform. He’s started a total of 38 games for six NFL franchises and is winless in his last 10 starts.
New England also will be without leading rusher Sony Michel, who was placed on injured reserve today with a quad injury. That was one of several pregame roster moves for the Patriots, who also activated running back Damien Harris and wide receiver Gunner Olszewski off IR, placed special teamer Cody Davis on IR and added receiver Isaiah Zuber to the roster as a COVID-19 replacement.
The full inactive lists for both teams will be announced at 5:35 p.m. ET. Kickoff is set for 7:05 p.m.