Most of us might owe Bill Belichick an apology. There is a reason the New England Patriots head coach is considered the best defensive mind in league history — and one of the greatest coaches of all time, period.
Together — with Brian Hoyer and later, Jarrett Stidham — he had his New England team within three points of the Chiefs late in the third quarter. The Patriots head coach took away tight end Travis Kelce in the first half (less his lone 24-yard reception), and the Chiefs did not score their seventh point until less than a minute left in the third frame.
Then the game got away from the Patriots. Patrick Mahomes continued to plug away, as he has shown to do in the past, and he put the Chiefs in a position to score on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill short to his right, and a 6-yard touchdown flip to wide receiver Mecole Hardman.
It is difficult not to wonder how this night would have ended if the second-quarter call that Mahomes’ forward progress was stopped by Chase Winovich didn’t go the Chiefs’ way — and was instead a pick-and-score. There is a very strong chance the Patriots would have had a 10-6 lead headed into the halftime locker room. Mahomes also was fortunate that he had two poor passes on the night dropped by New England defenders.
As good as Mahomes, Kelce, Hill and company are, there are going to be nights where the opposing team has a good plan and shuts down the offense. In those games, the defense will be called to step up — and it did for the Chiefs Monday night.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo obviously had a great plan. Even though you’d take facing Hoyer and Stidham before Newton every time, it is a challenge when your full week of preparation has been for another quarterback.
Frank Clark was everywhere. Both he and Taco Charlton had crucial sacks. Undrafted signee Tershawn Wharton showed off his speed and rookie second-rounder Willie Gay Jr. earned the first start of his career. Cornerback Rashad Fenton played well all night, and he was rewarded with an interception. We saw Juan Thornhill grab his first pick since his injury, and Tyrann Mathieu helped seal the game by taking a tip drill home.
On Monday evening, the Patriots gave opposing teams some good film on how they might try to defend the the Chiefs offense moving forward — and that will be an asset with key games coming against the division-rival Las Vegas Raiders and undefeated, bye week-contending Buffalo Bills.
Chiefs defensive leader Tyrann Mathieu recently said how ticked off he had been with the unit’s early-season performance — and you could see the team heard that messaging against New England.
The relentlessness stemming from dissatisfaction pays off on nights like Monday.