FOXBORO — Not continued ago, the struggles of the Patriots breach bedeviled the Monday morning conversation.
Things change bound in the NFL.
The Pats accepted on Sunday night that they accept one of the league’s best offenses, a assemblage that seems to be rapidly convalescent anniversary week. There aren’t abounding teams that will be able to apathetic bottomward Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon and a aback ascendant hasty attack.
As for the defense? Altered story. But at atomic they won’t see Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs until the playoffs (if at all). They’ve got time to plan for the rematch.
Here are the grades from New England’s ballsy 43-40 win over Kansas City in Anniversary 6:
Tom Brady abandoned two dimes to complete addition blood-tingling last-minute victory. The aboriginal was on a third-and-1 aback his top two options, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, were unavailable. Edelman was able-bodied covered and Gronkowski got agape to the arena by two Kansas City defenders. Brady confused over to his third read, Chris Hogan, and hit him in stride on a abysmal avenue bottomward the appropriate sideline.
Four plays later, Brady able the of Chiefs linebacker Breeland Speaks and affable for a touchdown that put the Pats ahead, 37-33.
On the final drive, with the account askance at 40, Brady altogether floated a abysmal canyon over Gronkowski’s accept to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s game-winning acreage goal.
In the third quarter, Brady committed an accidental absurdity that bound confused momentum. Facing a three-man blitz on a third-and-10, Brady jogged aback and alternating abaft the band of scrimmage, clutching the brawl for over 10 seconds. Aback he assuredly acquainted burden and absitively to get rid of the ball, it was too late. He was bare by Speaks and the Chiefs pounced on the brawl at the New England 29-yard line.
“I won’t do annihilation like that again,” Brady vowed in an account with WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan.
RUNNING BACK: A-minus
Sony Michel is carrying on his first-round status. Michel runs with accretion backbone anniversary week, and he continues to beam absorbing ability and backbone for his size.
His third-and-1 about-face with 1:55 actual was a key play.
Michel and James White accept accumulated for 609 yards from collapsed and seven touchdowns during the Patriots’ three-game acceptable streak.
While this was a almost quiet d from White, he fabricated the best of his touches in the additional half. On the comedy afterward Michel’s acknowledged third-and-1, White took a abbreviate collapsed avenue 16 yards, artifice Chiefs linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
Fullback James Develin was a force in the active game.
Third-string active aback Kenjon Barner looked acceptable in bound action, too.
WIDE RECEIVER: B-plus
Credit Hogan for his absorption on the 42-yard reception. He fought through a canyon arrest by Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller to accomplish the catch.
Hogan contributed little in September, but there’s no catechism Tom Brady trusts him in big moments. He’ll draw favorable matchups now that Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon are in the fold.
Edelman broiled Fuller for a touchdown on a bend avenue in the aboriginal half.
Gordon replaced Phillip Dorsett as a amateur and generated 79 yards (42 on bristles receptions, additional a 37-yard canyon arrest penalty). The timing and allure with Brady still needs to be perfected, but Gordon’s animality and athleticism makes him such a boxy antagonism on camber routes and abysmal balls.
TIGHT END: A
For the aboriginal time in his career, Rob Gronkowski has gone bristles beeline amateur after a touchdown.
But he afflicted the d in so abounding important means on Sunday night.
Gronkowski helped the Patriots set the accent up front, mauling the Kansas City arresting band en avenue to 74 hasty yards in the aboriginal quarter. On the final comedy of the quarter, Gronkowski pulled from the larboard ancillary of the band and accursed Ragland in the hole, arising Michel for an eight-yard gain.
Most of Gronkowski’s contributions came in the trenches, but his 39-yard accession in the final minute closed the deal.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A
Can’t get abundant bigger than this.
The Pats physically afflicted the Chiefs arresting advanced from the beginning. They deployed a ability active scheme, frequently affairs appropriate bouncer Shaq Mason or larboard bouncer Joe Thuney.
On a Michel 13-yard run in the aboriginal quarter, Mason angry his apostle inside, Thuney pulled to bandy a block in the hole, and Marcus Cannon confused to the additional level.
On a White 12-yard run in the fourth, Thuney afresh created the aperture aback he pulled and asleep Anthony Hitchens from the play.
Mason tossed arresting end Allen Bailey to the arena on Michel’s 1-yard touchdown run backward in the aboriginal half.
As far as canyon aegis goes, this was a solid d all-around. Brady was to accusation for the absent fumble.
On addition lix in the aboriginal half, Thuney pulled and Chiefs lineman Chris Jones went unblocked. Center David Andrews couldn’t accelerate over to block Jones, and Michel didn’t apathetic him bottomward as he answerable at Brady. Fortunately for the Pats, Andrews jumped on the brawl as anon as it hit the turf.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B-minus
Lots of acceptable being early.
Trey Flowers exhausted Chiefs appropriate accouterment Mitchell Schwartz to force an aberrant Mahomes bandy on a third-and-8 at the New England 24-yard line. The Chiefs acclimatized for a acreage goal.
On a third-and-4 in the red zone, Adrian Clayborn brought burden — forth with a blitzing Duron Harmon — and acquired Patrick Mahomes to attack a rushed jump-pass. It fell incomplete.
Clayborn additionally provided the burden as Mahomes misfired for Sammy Watkins in the end area on addition third down. Flowers sniffed out a bandy to fullback Anthony Sherman on the above-mentioned play.
In the additional half, arresting accouterment Danny Shelton brought the burden from the autogenous on a third-and-2.
The Pats had agitation befitting Mahomes independent in the abridged throughout the additional half, though. This led to some big plays.
New England wasn’t abundant adjoin the run, either, acceptance 8 yards per backpack to Hunt.
Dont’a Hightower was all over the acreage in the aboriginal half. He tricked Patrick Mahomes into an interception, as he showed rush, took two accomplish forward, and again aloof to a area in the average of the field.
Mahomes never saw Hightower. He threw the brawl anon at the 265-pound linebacker.
Hightower played an important role in Mahomes’ additional interception, too. He lined up anon beyond from bound end Travis Kelce at the snap, bumped Kelce to agitate his route, and again rushed Mahomes. He got a duke on Mahomes’ jersey as the accomplished quarterback heaved the brawl into amateur coverage.
Hightower struggled in added moments. He was austere by Kareem Hunt on a vertical avenue during the aboriginal possession, but Mahomes absent the throw. Hightower bootless to abstract with blockers on a Hunt 25-yard awning canyon and 31-yard run.
Kyle Van Noy couldn’t accouterment Hunt in amplitude on a third-and-3 forth the sideline. Aloof as the Lions did with Kerryon Johnson in Anniversary 2, the Chiefs approved to get Hunt on the bend to accomplishment the Patriots’ linebackers aggregate abridgement of speed.
Elandon Roberts fabricated a few solid stops in the run d and additionally angled a canyon on a third-and-2.
DEFENSIVE BACK: D
There appeared to be a bankrupt advantage on Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard touchdown. It’s accessible that Jason McCourty was amenable for the abysmal third of the acreage on the arresting right. McCourty sat on a Kelce route, however, abrogation Harmon abandoned in the middle.
Harmon appeared to accept an bend on Hill, but couldn’t alike get a duke on him. Hill’s dispatch was mind-boggling.
Devin McCourty was in advantage on Hill’s added two touchdowns.
On Hunt’s 67-yard touchdown, Jason McCourty played as if he had abysmal assurance help. But Devin McCourty was absent with Hill in the average middle. Harmon was eyeing Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley on the added ancillary of the field. This larboard Jason McCourty abandoned with Hunt, who got a footfall on the adept cornerback and bent the abysmal canyon in stride.
Stephon Gilmore enjoyed addition accomplished game, basically shutting out his above teammate, Sammy Watkins, who totaled aloof 18 yards on two receptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus
Stephen Gostkowski adapted nine bliss — bristles acreage goals and four added points. The Pats bare every one of them.
The alpha coverage, which had been all-a-quiver branch into Anniversary 6, hit bedrock basal on Sunday night. Matthew Slater, Brandon King and Devin McCourty had shots at Tremon Smith on the rookie’s 97-yard alpha return. McCourty took a poor bend forth the amusement and eventually chased bottomward Smith at the 3-yard line.
Josh McDaniels knew the Patriots could out-physical the Chiefs at the band of scrimmage. The ability run access was effective. The Pats additionally fabricated abiding to get Josh Gordon complex early.
Defensively, the Pats had a solid plan. They bearded their pressures and threw altered looks at Patrick Mahomes. On a third-and-4 in the aboriginal quarter, the Pats showed seven players rushing, but three of them—Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and arresting accouterment Adam Butler—dropped into advantage over the middle. This acquired some abashing on the Kansas City abhorrent line, and Harmon came accessible at Mahomes. The Pats were able to agitation Mahomes aloof abundant aboriginal on and get stops in the red zone.
In the additional half, New England got abroad from some of the alien looks that formed in the aperture 30 minutes. Mahomes was rarely pressured in the additional half.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Rob Gronkowski: A cogent agency in New England’s success active the ball. Fabricated a 39-yard t to allowance the win.
Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney: This could be one of the Patriots’ best hasty attacks in contempo memory. Mason and Thuney were at the basis of the Pats’ success on the arena against the Chiefs.
Tom Brady: Yet addition improvement in the fourth quarter.
BACK OF THE PACK
The McCourty twins: They were complex in all four of Mahomes’ touchdown passes.
Duron Harmon: Takes some of the accusation for Hill’s 75-yard touchdown.
Kickoff coverage: As Matthew Slater said, advantage was “brutal.” The Pats are now acceptance 27.4 yards per bang return, the fourth-worst mark in the league. They’re perennially at the top of the NFL in that statistic.
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