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New England Patriots Team Grades: Early Penalties And Poor Defense Seals Opening Loss To Chiefs

By Danny Cox

This was expected to be the beginning of the next "possibly perfect" season for the New England Patriots and in the first 10 minutes, it appeared as if that the first victory would be easily achieved. Tom Brady and the offense were running on all cylinders and the defense looked good, but two big penalties ended up taking points off the board on two occasions, and the Kansas City Chiefs took over the momentum.

As the game progressed, things only seemed to go further downhill in a hurry, with Brady being pressured and the Pats defense unable able to stop Alex Smith or rookie running back Kareem Hunt. Once all was said and done, this didn't just result in a loss for the defending champions, but a 42-27 blowout.

Offense: C

Early on, the Pats looked to be on fire with Brady getting numerous receivers involved. One TD was called off the board thanks to a holding a penalty, but they got it back. Another by Rob Gronkowski was also taken off the board after a video review and resulted in the Chiefs stuffing the Pats on a fourth-and-one for no points at all.

Brady was hounded all night and sacked three times while completing only 16-of-36 attempts for just 267 yards and no touchdowns. The lone bright point was running back Mike Gillislee, who had all three New England touchdowns but only 45 yards on 15 carries. It was obvious that LeGarrette Blount's power was missed.

Defense: D+

Things looked good early on but then quickly fell apart, with the final quarter looking all-around ugly. Alex Smith completed 28-of-35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns, which included bombs of 75 and 78 yards. Tyreek Hill had the kind of game at receiver that the Chiefs were hoping to get from him—133 yards on seven receptions.

The player the Pats couldn't stop all night, though, was Kareem Hunt. After fumbling the ball away on his first-ever NFL carry, the rookie made up for it with 148 yards on the ground, 98 yards receiving, and three total touchdowns for an excellent pro debut. After that fumble, New England could do nothing to stop him the entire night.

Special Teams: B

Dion Lewis looked good in the kick return game when he had the chance, and even had a long of 26 yards. Danny Amendola returned just one punt attempt for a mere eight yards before leaving with a concussion.

Ryan Allen punted six times and pinned the Chiefs within their own 20-yard-line on two occasions, but that is a lot more punting the ball away than most Patriots teams are used to. Stephen Gostkowski had a great game as he hit all three of his extra points and both field goal attempts, but he couldn't do it all.

Coaching: C

It's kind of hard to know what happened here as the New England Patriots looked good coming out of the gate and quickly fell apart before being demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half. Bill Belichick let Tom Brady go out there and run his offense as he normally does, and things looked good, but the running game is a problem already.

A bigger issue is the defense, though—it did nothing to help the Patriots the entire evening. The running game couldn't be stopped and Alex Smith looked more like a Super Bowl winning quarterback than anyone else on Thursday night. There will need to be some changes made in a hurry, or the Pats won't be raising a Super Bowl banner again on opening day next season.

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