The Kansas City Chiefs beat the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 42-27. They were nine-point ‘dogs coming in and they won.
Let me repeat that: On the night New England raised a banner to celebrate the Super Bowl, the Chiefs beat them in their own house. And they did it convincingly.
The bad news: The Chiefs think Eric Berry’s injury is serious.
What we learned is below...
Best game of Alex Smith’s career
The stats: 28/35 for 368 yards, 4 TDs
I have a copy of the latest Madden video game and it’s called the GOAT edition with Tom Brady on the cover. I joke about calling Alex the GOAT but holy smokes what a game for him. This was arguably the best game he’s had as a Chief. I would put it up there with his 378-yard, four touchdown performance in the Colts playoff game a few years back (still hurts).
This is how unusual it was for Alex - or any other quarterback! - to play this well against the Patriots secondary.
The longest touchdown the Patriots allowed in the 2016 regular season was 26 yards. Tonight, touchdowns of 75 and 78— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 8, 2017
Alex Smith 75-Yard passing touchdowns, per @ESPNStatsInfo:— Chris Sprow (@SprowESPN) September 8, 2017
The Kareem Hunt hype is real
And he’s spectacular.
The stats: 17 carries for 148 yards, 1 rushing TD, 5 catches, 98 yards, 2 receiving TDs
He fumbled on his first NFL carry which was about as bad of a start as it gets. Then it was all good after that. He looked like he belonged. He has some wiggle. He’s going to be a player for the Chiefs.
Hunt had a lot of hype coming in. the Chiefs put a ton of faith in him by having no hesitation putting him as the top guy after Spencer Ware went down. We didn’t see a ton of him in the preseason so I was skeptical he would live up to the hype.
Tyreek Hill is a nightmare. A defensive magnet constantly in motion to free up the wheel route to Kareem Hunt #ChiefsKingdom #NFLKickoff2017 pic.twitter.com/nPoiIicbD3— Thiago Scabbia (@TScabbia) September 8, 2017
Turns out, as usual, I was wrong! Hunt is the real deal. At least in this game - on a massive stage - he was the real deal.
Eric Berry’s injury is a concern
This could be the top item in this recap because it’s so important. Berry went down with a non-contact Achilles injury that didn’t look very good. They carted him off. The Chiefs said they think it’s a potential tear and they will know more tomorrow.
The worst case scenario would be he’s done for the year which seems likely at this point. He is the heart and soul of this team as well as its leader. Losing Berry would be one of the 3-4 worst things that could happen to this team.
Tyreek Hill is a receiver
The stats: 7 catches, 133 yards, 1 TD
He had a few receptions on crossing routes in the first half. The big one came in the second half when Alex Smith wound up and threw a 75-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill, who was wide open.
Tyreek looked the part of a receiver. The Chiefs still lined him up all over - in the backfield, the slot and out wide. He was a decoy on some plays. There was still enough there that he felt a little gadget-y but the numbers speak for themselves.
The downside is that Tyreek left early limping but it was just cramps.
Fourth down stops come up huge
The Patriots got the ball first and went right down the field and scored a touchdown. The Chiefs got it back and fumbled on their first play. The Patriots got it back and forced a fourth and short which the Patriots went for.
The Chiefs defense did a great job stopping New England on fourth and short and forcing a turnover on downs. If the Chiefs don’t make that stop, they’re potentially on the verge of going down 14-0 in the first few minutes of the game. That was a massive stop that changed the game.
The next fourth down stop came in the fourth quarter with about 12 minutes left. The Patriots were down 28-27 and faced a fourth and short. Instead of the seemingly unstoppable Tom Brady sneak, they handed it off and the Chiefs stuffed them again.
Justin Houston shows up
Houston was pretty quiet in the first half. I saw a ton of tweets wondering why Houston was dropping in coverage and not rushing the passer so often in the first half. And those questions were right. Why were they dropping him so much?
The Chiefs changed that in the second half. With the Patriots were in obvious passing situations, Houston went to work with three fourth quarter sacks.
Travis Kelce’s boneheaded penalty
First, the Patriots gave Kelce a ton of attention and shut him down. He wasn’t a factor in the passing game.
The other thing is that penalty ... The Chiefs were down 24-21 but they had some offensive momentum after scoring on the previous drive. They did this fake pitch to a shovel pass to Travis Kelce up the middle. Kelce took it up the middle nine yards to set the Chiefs up for a 2nd and one.
They called a taunting penalty on Kelce for shoving the ball into someone’s, ahem, private parts on the pile. Just a dumb penalty that killed the Chiefs momentum and they ended up punting. Sure, he was goaded into it with some BS there from the Patriots but still. The Chiefs are lucky New England only scored a field goal on the way back and not a touchdown to basically end it then.
The irony here is that Kelce did a pregame interview with NBC where he talked about becoming a leader and not making those dumb mistakes anymore. This was a dumb mistake that cost the Chiefs.