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Taylor Swift should ask for a refund and other leftover Patriots thoughts

"That's on me": Bailey Zappe on his costly interception in Patriots' Week 15 loss to Chiefs
"That's on me": Bailey Zappe on his costly interception in Patriots' Week 15 loss to Chiefs 01:11

BOSTON -- Imagine having your people fire up your private jet so that you can fly into Rhode Island and drive up to Foxboro only to watch your beau catch five passes for 28 yards in an anticlimactic 27-17 Kansas City victory on a gray New England December day?

How embarrassing.

Really, that thought was just an excuse to fit Taylor Swift into this game story, because you know what? It wasn't the greatest game ever played. It just kind of happened. The Chiefs got their win. The Patriots got their loss. Taylor Swift was there. And the world keeps spinning.

Taylor Swift, Brittany Mahomes
Taylor Swift, Brittany Mahomes Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

But, you know, it is the day after a game, so let's hit as many leftover thoughts as possible from the loss that dropped the Patriots to 3-11 on the season.

--Just start with this: The Patriots once again failed to score more than 21 points for the 13th time in their 14 games this season. They scored two or fewer touchdowns in a game for the 11th time. They've scored seven or fewer points in five games. They average 13.3 points per game, the lowest mark in the NFL.

It's hard to actually be competitive when the offense is so ... useless? That's probably too strong of a term. But, well, it is what it is.

--On the other side, the defense is good, right? Right. But also ... 

Justin Watson cooked Jonathan Jones (with Myles Bryant over the top) for a 31-yard gain for a massive chunk play on a touchdown drive. The defense left Rashee Rice wide open two plays later for a 20-yard gain ...

Rashee Rice
Rashee Rice Screen shot from NFL+

... before allowing an easy third-and-1 conversion in the red zone, which allowed the Chiefs to put a touchdown instead of a field goal on the board.

Another coverage breakdown gave up another chunk gain on another scoring drive:

Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Marquez Valdes-Scantling Screen shot from NFL+

That's putting aside the 48-yard screen pass where Clyde Edwards-Helaire moved the ball half of a football field while lightly jogging up the sideline behind a wall of blockers before breaking a tackle to boot.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Clyde Edwards-Helaire for 48 yards GIF from NFL+

Outside of that, Travis Kelce dropped a touchdown, Noah Gray had a 32-yard reception, Kadarius Toney (an absolute jester on the field) not only bobbled a pass to give the Patriots an interception but also dropped what would have been a third-and-9 conversion, and Edwards-Helaire broke a 20-yard run.

That's all a way of saying yes, the defense is good. We can see that. But they're not quite win-you-games-by-themselves good. So it's largely all for naught.

--We can half-joke about Jahlani Tavai's INADVISABLE lateral after his gifted interception ...

... but also, a year after Jakobi Meyers' insane lateral in Las Vegas, you'd think that there would have been an edict to all players to never make careless decisions with the football in their hands.

--I can't get over how bad Harrison Butker's miss was, but he made up for it with his 56-yarder later in the game.

--Chad Ryland, on the other hand? That's a problem. The rookie is now 13-for-20 on field goals for the year, with five of his misses coming on kicks of less than 40 yards. 

Is that why Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the Kansas City 16-yard line? You'd hope not (even though it led to a Hunter Henry touchdown). But ... maybe it was. That wouldn't be very good.

 --A random confession that's neither here nor there: My brain has had great difficulty distinguishing between Jabrill Peppers (No. 5) and Mack Wilson (No. 3) this season. Just the 3 and the 5. It's got my brain in a pretzel. (I guess Tom Brady was right when he said the single-digit numbers could confuse quarterbacks.) Even as I wrote this, I got their numbers wrong. I had to fix it. 

But a new wrinkle on Sunday developed when I thought Marte Mapu was Mack Wilson. Mapu wears Wilson's old No. 30. It's just a lot for me. I think I'm just officially old. The brain ain't braining.

Just felt like confessing. Thank you.

(Mapu, by the way, was a training camp star who's had a very underwhelming rookie season. He now has a pick of Patrick Mahomes on his resume, though, which is a nice thing for a rookie to have.)

--With Bailey Zappe, there are some obvious limitations. He's short, for one. Not a tall lad. He's inexperienced when it comes to pre-snap diagnoses. His delivery is ... unique. He'll make some butt-ugly throws on occasion, too:

But the entire selling point of The Zappe Experience has been that he'll take care of the football. That was his ticket to this starting job. The Patriots essentially had to turn to Zappe because Mac Jones couldn't stop throwing interceptions. The young man became addicted to turning the ball over, and Zappe offered some promise to be better.

But then, well, you know, this:

The Chiefs were in the end zone two plays after that gifted pick. That's losing football.

Two drives later, Zappe couldn't feel the rush and ended up fumbling. 

Bailey Zappe fumbles.
Bailey Zappe fumbles. Kathryn Riley / Getty Images

That was only not a turnover because Conor McDermott was in the right place at the right time to recover it. Luck was the only thing preventing Zappe from turning the ball over deep in his own territory twice in three series.

Zappe was 5-for-9 with a sack on third down, with the Patriots converting just two of their 12 third downs on the day. He took four sacks and averaged less than six yards per pass attempt.

There's no grand point here on Zappe. He's just ... limited. 

--This catch was sick:

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Clyde Edwards-Helaire catches a touchdown. Kathryn Riley / Getty Images

Sometimes, guys make sick plays. This season, it's usually guys on the other team.

--I love pictures like this:

Ezekiel Elliott runs against the Chiefs.
Ezekiel Elliott runs against the Chiefs. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Good picture.

--There was a lot of focus (maybe) on the decisions to twice punt on fourth-and-4 or less in the fourth quarter. Bill Belichick faced a couple of questions on them, anyway. His reasoning for not going for it was sound, and he was correct to note that neither hurt. The Patriots forced a Kansas City punt after not going for it on fourth-and-3 at their own 42, and they got the pick off the Toney bobble one play after punting on fourth-and-4 from their own 33.

"At that point we had lost three starters [Cole Strange, Conor McDermott, Hunter Henry]," Belichick explained. "Worried about the pass protection. Worried about being able to execute in that situation. Felt like we were playing good defense. Get the ball back on a turnover, three-and-out, get the ball in better field position."

He's right, but just like it did earlier in the year in the home loss to the Saints, it begs the question of why they're taking the field in the first place if the head coach doesn't believe the offense can make plays. It's a tough spot, because he's right. The offense isn't good enough to trust in those situations. But the Patriots also can't really compete if they don't take additional risks to try to steal some points whenever possible.

But that word -- "risk" -- doesn't really apply. Or it shouldn't. Losing by 10 points instead of 17 is not an accomplishment.

--The ending was just kind of ... sad. A fourth-and-4 incompletion with no chance of success from Zappe gave the ball to the Chiefs at the New England 7-yard line. With 2:35 left in the game and a 10-point deficit, the Patriots decided it wasn't worth it to try to get the ball back, so Belichick didn't call timeout after a first-down run.

Realistically, the odds of completing a 13-point comeback or a 17-point comeback with something like 75 seconds left and no timeouts were probably as close to zero as possible. Still, the Patriots didn't even feign interest in trying to do that. So the Chiefs responded in kind by kneeling the ball on second and third down ... and then again on fourth down. The Patriots got the ball with 35 seconds left and had Kevin Harris plunge into the line to end the game.

It was a dud of an ending. The Chiefs didn't want to spike the football. The Patriots didn't want to even bother trying to do much of anything in the final minutes. It was just an empty finish to what could have been a much better game. And, given the state of this season, it just kind of feels appropriate.

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