FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Kansas City Chiefs are out of excuses if they don't maintain inside position for the AFC's Super Bowl berth. For a team that for several seasons has been on the cusp but not quite elite, that's a decidedly comfortable place to be.
The Chiefs took the mantle as the AFC favorite from the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots by winning at Gillette Stadium 42-27 on Thursday night. The Chiefs accomplished the improbable by getting two elements that seemed most unlikely leading up to the game.
The Chiefs tried to downplay the significance of their victory.
“It’s a win,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “It’s a big win. But you’ve got to be able to handle it the right way. We’ve got to be resilient and turn our attention to next week.
“You can’t forget that it’s one of 16. You’ve got to keep that same mentality, that same week-in, week-out, attention-to-detail mentality.’’
Smith outplayed Patriots counterpart Tom Brady in every way, throwing four touchdown passes, including a 75-yarder to Tyreek Hill in the third quarter and a 78-yarder to rookie running back Kareem Hunt early in the fourth.
Smith was 28-of-35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception. Brady was only 16-of-36 for 267 yards, without a TD or interception.
The Chiefs also got a big game from Hunt, who became only the third player since 1970 with 150 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in his NFL debut, joining Marshall Faulk (1994) and Billy Sims (1980).
The Chiefs made the interesting decision to try to disrupt Brady with coverage rather than pressure. The Chiefs frequently dropped eight players into coverage and rushed Brady with three.
The strategy wasn't consistently effective, but it allowed the Chiefs to limit the damage the Patriots did with their passing game.
All things seem possible now for the Chiefs after their most impressive victory in four seasons (plus one game) with Andy Reid as their coach. The Chiefs have some wins to be proud of in that time, such as one against the Falcons in Atlanta and two over the Oakland Raiders last season.
Thursday night's win was in a different category. It came at the expense of the defending Super Bowl champions in a place where they rarely lose with Brady as their quarterback.
If the Chiefs can overcome all of that, what's left on their schedule that they can't conquer?