Last night set up perfectly for the Patriots and Pats fans. The season opener in Foxboro. The commissioner on hand, so they could boo him, and shove their fifth Lombardi in his face. And then they could remind the rest of the country just how awesome they are by looking back at the Super Bowl win over Atlanta, then bust out their new talent, and smash Kansas City.
And things got off to a decent start with Pats fan getting after the commish a bit, but I’ll be honest… I was expecting more from them when it came to the booing. I was expecting that level of venom to last for minutes on end. But no matter, their team jumped out to a 7-0 lead, forced a Kareem Hunt fumble, and then went up another touchdown when Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a diving catch in the end zone. The beatdown was on. Until it wasn’t.
Because replays showed that Gronk didn’t complete the catch, the touchdown came off the board, and the Chiefs stoned the Pats when they went for it on 4th down. And after that, it all fell apart – physically, mentally, and statistically.
And as you can imagine, Bill Belichick was Bill Belichick after the game: “We gave up 42 points, stopped on four short-yardage plays. We’ve got to coach better, got to practice better, got to play better. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I mean, that’s obvious.”
It certainly is obvious, but it wasn’t so obvious before the game when this team was a Super Bowl lock. So what happened? Tom Brady said part of the problem was “our attitude and our competitiveness.”
“I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better. That is a winning attitude and a championship attitude that you need to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field. It’s a terrible feeling, and the only people that can do something about it are in that locker room. We’ve got to dig a lot deeper than we did tonight because we didn’t dig very deep tonight.”
How does this team do that on that stage? Did they start reading their own clippings, believing their own hype, because that’s something a Belichick and Brady team never does. But maybe it came too easily too quickly in the game, because after ripping through Kansas City initially, the offense slowed down and aside from Mike Gillislee, looked pretty underwhelming. If this is what they’re like without Julian Edelman, then we should be talking a lot more about JE11 than TB12 because the Patriots looked very un-Patriot without him. Even their short-yardage plays, that they usually dominate on, they came up short time and time again.
Speaking of Brady: he finished: 16-36, 267 YARDS: no T.D.’s and looked every bit 40: sometimes athletes just show and age out. Like a boxer, who shows up one night and isn’t nearly what he used to be. Can’t do what he used to do. Can longer slip punches, or land them. There was certainly an element of that to Brady last night. Sure, it was just one game. And folks who tried to bury him in the past, were burned badly. Fact is, this dude isn’t going to do it forever. And father time is undefeated.
The Pats and their fans better hope that that was just one bad game, and that this is not who this guy is now. Because Alex Smith was far and away the best Q.B. on the field last night.
And their defense looked downright terrible. Pass rush was a concern going in and it’s a bigger concern coming out. As is the fact that they gave up 536 yards, the most ever allowed by a Belichick team. I mean, how does that happen to that team on that night? Last night was supposed to be about reminding the whole world that they had an amazing comeback in the Super Bowl and that they pretty much invented the game of football.
Instead, Kansas City came into their house and punched them in the face… Repeatedly. KC receivers were running free in their secondary and dropping piece signs on them as they jogged into the end zone. That’s not supposed to happen. Not in Foxboro and not last night.
Belichick said it himself: “Bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad football.”
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Donta Hightower suffered a leg injury, taxing their depth on defense. Danny Amendola suffered a head injury, taxing their depth at receiver. And Pats fans suffered a pride injury. Because by the end of that game, that house was a morgue. An empty morgue.
The easy and stupid thing today would be to declare that the Patriots aren’t the Patriots anymore. That their defense lost more talent than anyone really recognized. And they got exposed.
But that’s not the case. Bury Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at your own peril. And make all the “on to New Orleans” cracks that you want. Because you know that’s how they’re handling it. The only thing we know for sure is that they aren’t going 19-0. They’re not dead, just humiliated. And concerned. And they should be. Because I have never seen a Belichick coached Patriots team get its face caved in and especially on that big a stage. That was embarrassing.