FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A significant part of the foundation of the New England Patriots under coach Bill Belichick has been limiting big plays.
How much so? The last time the Patriots allowed two touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game came in 1968, against quarterback Len Dawson and the Chiefs.
This Chiefs team finished with 537 total yards Thursday, the fourth-most yards allowed by the Patriots in team history and the most under Belichick.
"We didn't really do much of anything well enough to deserve to win," Belichick said. "We've got a lot of work to do. I mean, that's obvious."
Most disappointing for the Patriots? The secondary was supposed to be the strength of the team after New England paid big bucks to sign cornerback Stephon Gilmore in free agency and paired him with Malcolm Butler. The Patriots played primarily a dime defense Thursday and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith carved them up.
"Bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad football," Belichick said.
Added Gilmore, "The stuff we messed up on is on us, so we've just got to go out and play harder and play with a better attitude and go from there."
As the Patriots look ahead, figuring out how to limit those big plays won't be easy with QB Drew Brees and the Saints next on the schedule in New Orleans. They have traditionally been one of the NFL's more prolific passing attacks.
Making matters worse, the Patriots might also be without linebacker and captain Dont'a Hightower, who left the opener in the third quarter with a right knee injury and didn't return after Chiefs center Mitch Morse landed on the knee. Hightower remained on the sideline throughout the second half with a large wrap on his knee, at one point riding the stationary bike.
For those looking for a silver lining, New England lost its opener in Miami in its Super Bowl XLIX-winning 2014 season as the defense had trouble providing resistance in a 33-20 loss. They rebounded to put together a championship season, overcoming some early turbulence in September, which Belichick often views as an extension of the preseason.
They hope the script is similar this year after an opening-night dud few saw coming.