KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Picked-up pieces from third-quarter review of the New England Patriots’ 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:
1. In dissecting quarterback Tom Brady's first interception, in which he threw into a heavily trafficked area as receiver Julian Edelman broke off his out-and-up route to the sideline, it highlighted how the Patriots were using extra resources to account for protection concerns at the line of scrimmage. They initially kept eight players in to block, with running back Stevan Ridley chipping left outside linebacker Tamba Hali and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui staying in on the right side of the line at the start of the play. The Chiefs rushed just five, which meant the Patriots had two receivers in pass-routes against six Kansas City defenders before Gronkowski released out late to make it a three-on-seven numbers game. It's no wonder Brady was throwing into heavy coverage.
2. The offensive line didn’t seem to be a major cause for concern in the first half, but the breakdowns started to pile on top of each other in the third quarter when the Chiefs could pin their ears back and get after Brady. Rookie right guard Cameron Fleming was beaten to his outside shoulder by defensive lineman Allen Bailey on the third-and-6 sack in which Brady fumbled to be somehow recovered by left tackle Nate Solder. The pressure from Bailey forced Brady to step up into the pocket, where outside linebacker Justin Houston was knifing in against right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
3. So confident with the ability to run on the Patriots, the Chiefs called six straight runs on their opening drive of the second half of 4, 5, 5, 16, 1 and 3 yards, respectively. On the 5-yard run on third-and-1, Dont'a Hightower struggled to set the right defensive edge, with Chandler Jones playing inside. The run initially came up the middle before it was cut outside. Soft edges were an issue for much of the day for the Patriots -- specifically with Jones and, to a lesser degree, Hightower.
4. Jones' struggles setting the edge earned him a spot on the sideline with 3:26 remaining in the third quarter (Chiefs 27, Patriots 7), as Dominique Easley got his first extended work at right defensive end in a game. Easley played his technique well by pressing and extending his arms into the chest of left tackle Eric Fisher on a Knile Davis run for no gain with 2:47 remaining, setting a nice edge on that play before rushing too far up the field past the quarterback from a two-point stance on the next play.
5. This was a game in which everything seemed to hit right for the Chiefs -- even on plays that didn’t produce the desired results. For example, the screen pass that was dropped by running back Knile Davis was the perfect call against a six-man Patriots blitz (5:38 remaining). Just one of those days for New England. That's football.
6. Receiver Brandon LaFell's size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) stood out on his 44-yard catch and run touchdown. As a bigger receiver, he’s tough to bring down and that was one of the bright spots for New England. The play preceding that -- a 28-yard quick pass to running back Shane Vereen coming off a jet sweep play action to Julian Edelman to the opposite side -- was a glimpse of how the Patriots thought they might be able to attack the Chiefs by featuring their running backs in the passing game. But they just couldn’t sustain enough drives early to get into that.
7. Tough night for safety Tavon Wilson, who struggled with his footing in limited snaps, with Travis Kelce’s 16-yard catch-and-run at 3:26 following up a similar miscue in the second quarter on Kelce’s 33-yard catch-and-run.
8. One offensive player stood out from a hustle perspective -- Edelman. On the Brady strip sack fumble recovered by the Chiefs, and then the Sean Smith interception, he displayed a maximum effort that wasn’t overlooked at this address.