After two narrow victories against mediocre teams, the New England Patriots wanted to make a statement. They did it, loudly, against one of the best.
Robert Edwards made history and Drew Bledsoe made a shambles of Kansas City's highly touted but totally horrid defense as the Patriots routed the Chiefs 40-10 Sunday.
"To go out and beat a team like that really sets a standard for our team," Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn said after Kansas City's worst loss in four years. "It shows people around the league what kind of team we have."
It's the kind of team that outgained Kansas City, which had the NFL's best defense, 438 yards to 134, and led 27-0 at halftime after needing late rallies to beat Tennessee and New Orleans.
"We played probably as good as we can play against a good team," Bledsoe said.
Edwards, the rookie runner who replaced Curtis Martin, became the first player since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger with touchdowns in his first five pro games. Bledsoe threw three scoring passes.
The Patriots defense held Kansas City to 14 yards rushing, the second-fewest in its history. The Patriots rushed for 206 yards and held huge advantages in first downs, 31-9, and time of possession, 41:48-18:12.
"Nobody expected anything like that," Patriots cornerback Ty Law said.
| New England's Drew Bledsoe hugs linebacker Willie McGinest after Bledsoe threw a second-quarter touchdown pass. (AP) |
The Patriots (4-1) scored on seven consecutive possessions after punting on their first one as Edwards and Ben Coates each scored twice and Adam Vinatieri kicked four field goals. They broke a tie for the AFC East lead with Miami, which plays at Jacksonville on Monday night.
The Chiefs (4-2) suffered their worst loss since Oct. 30, 1994, when they were beaten at Buffalo 44-10. They helped the Patriots with a fumble, a roughing-the-passer penalty and two fourth-down failures.
"We made enough errors to last a season," Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "This is the best football team we've played all season."
The Chiefs, using Elvis Grbac instead of Rich Gannon at quarterback for the first time in five games, were stopped cold one week after overcoming a torrential downpour to beat Seattle 17-6.
"I don't think there's any area of the game we didn't feel good about," Patriots coach Pete Carroll said. "Even the sun came out."
Grbac didn't blame the early deficit that forced the Chiefs into a predictable throwing attack, saying, "As a quarterback, you're asked to do whatever the situation is."
Kansas City began the game with the NFL's best pass defense, allowing 129.6 yards per game, and best overall defense, giving up an average of 240. By halftime, Bledsoe has 174 yards passing and the offense had 246.
Not even Derrick Thomas, who began the day tied for the AFC lead with seven sacks, could help.
"Any time you go on the road against a great team, you have to play mistake-free football, but instead we made mistake after mistake after mistake," he said.
Bledsoe went 17-for-26 for 226 yards and no interceptions. Edwards has six touchdowns in five games since being drafted in the first round as the replacement for Martin, who signed with the New York Jets. He finished with a career-high 104 yards on 23 carries.
Grbac, returning from a shoulder injury, couldn't get the Chiefs into the end zone until 52 seconds remained in the third quarter when he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Alexander after the Patriots led 37-0.
Edwards scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter after Henry Thomas recovered Donnell Bennett's fumble. After Vinatieri's 32-yard field goal made it 10-0, an offside penalty on a field-goal attempt gave the Patriots a first down before Bledsoe hit Edwards for a 15-yard scoring pass.
The Chiefs then forced the Patriots into a fourth-and-5, but Ron George was penalized for roughing punter Tom Tupa, setting up Bledsoe's 2-yard pass to Coates, making it 24-0.
A holding call against cornerback James Hasty set up Vinatieri's 38-yard field goal ending the half. The Patriots scored on their first two series of the third quarter, on Bledsoe's 11-yard pass to Coates anVinatieri's 27-yard field goal. Pete Stoyanovich and Vinatieri traded fourth-quarter field goals.
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