By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) – The New England Patriots haven’t piled up many style
points just yet but the club is in its customary spot atop the AFC East,
albeit tied with Buffalo entering Week 4, and will be shooting for a third
straight win when it visits Kansas City on “Monday Night Football.”
In Week 3, veteran nose tackle Vince Wilfork intercepted a deflected pass deep
in New England territory after the Oakland Raiders had a potential tying
touchdown negated by a penalty, as the Patriots held on for a 16-9 victory.
The Raiders held New England to a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter to
keep it a seven-point game before marching from their own 38-yard line to the
New England 6 in the final minutes. Darren McFadden found a big hole and
cruised into the end zone for an apparent touchdown, but a holding penalty
wiped out the score.
“Definitely thought we scored a touchdown. The referee ruled it a hold, so you
know you got to roll with whatever they call,” McFadden said.
Rookie Oakland signal caller Derek Carr then tried to hit Denarius Moore with
a short pass, but the ball deflected off the receiver’s hands and into the
arms of Wilfork at the New England 11 with just under a minute to play.
The Patriots were able to run out the remaining time from there to earn their
second straight win following a season-opening loss at Miami.
“I thought the players did a good job of making the plays we had to make at
the end of the game; good situational football, did a pretty good job of
handling that,” said New England head coach Bill Belichick. “Defensively, any
time you can keep a team out of the end zone, you have to feel good about
Tom Brady was held in check for the most part, throwing for 234 yards with a
touchdown on 24-of-37 passing but did notch his 150th career regular-season
win as a starting QB, joining Brett Favre (186) and Peyton Manning (169) as
the only players in NFL history to accomplish that. Rob Gronkowski caught the
TD pass from Brady and Julian Edelman had 10 receptions for 84 yards.
“It was a grind-it-out kind of game,” Belichick said. “It was tough, hard
fought and came down to a couple of plays in the fourth quarter. We did some
things well but not consistently. We just need to do a better job in a lot of
areas. We just need to keep working to improve.”
The Chiefs, meanwhile, tasted victory for the first time in 2014 during Week 3
thanks to Knile Davis, who ran for a career-high 132 yards on 32 carries with
a touchdown to lead Kansas City o a 34-15 win over Miami.
Playing without the NFL’s third-leading rusher from a season ago in Jamaal
Charles, Kansas City relied on a heavy dose of Davis and third-string tailback
Joe McKnight, who hauled in a team-high six passes for 64 yards and two
“We came out today and played against a good football team,” Chiefs head coach
Andy Reid said. “I think our defense really stepped up. Knile (Davis) and
(Joe) McKnight on the offensive side I thought did well.”
Alex Smith completed an efficient 19-of-25 passes for 186 yards and three
scores in the win.
“Momentum’s a funny thing,” said Smith. “It’s hard to put your finger on it,
but certainly this win helps. This is what you’re looking for. This is how you
Kansas City holds a 16-13-3 all-time advantage over the Pats but New England
has won five of the past six. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have been the better team
on MNF with a 22-17 mark. New England is underwater on the national showcase
“I hear that (Monday Night Football) song in my head,” Smith said. “I hear the
intro song. So many memories as a kid growing up and watching “Monday Night
Football,” and I think the whole country has similar thoughts and it’s a
special deal. So to bring you back here for a home game, even more special.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
If it seems like Brady is shooting for some kind of history every week, that’s
probably because he is. The veteran All-Pro, who is 4-1 as a starter in his
career against Kansas City, is rapidly closing in on 50,000 passing yards,
needing just 219 in Kansas City to become only the sixth QB in history to
reach that mark. Meanwhile, if Brady throws a TD pass on Monday night, he will
pass Hall of Famer Steve Young (42) for the third most scoring passes ever on
the iconic “Monday Night Football” franchise.
All that said, as the history continues to pile up for Brady, things are
becoming dicier and dicier for New England offensively and that is because the
team just doesn’t have the threats outside the numbers to scare opposing
Edelman has certainly turned into a great receiver with 22 receptions on 26
targets in the first three games but his strength lies in his short-area
quickness and route-running skills. The oft-injured Danny Amendola has similar
strengths as a wide receiver and Gronk is a true “Y” tight end who is a
mismatch down the seam and in the red zone but he’s not stretching defenses.
Someone from the group of Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Brandon LaFell
has to step up if the Pats want to get more explosive and that’s unlikely
considering that trio has combined for 11 catches over the first three weeks.
The lack of big-play ability on the Pats’ side should help a depleted
Chiefs defense. Kansas City has already lost linebacker Derrick Johnson and
defensive end Mike DeVito for the year with Achilles injuries, while star
safety Eric Berry is doubtful for this one with a high ankle sprain.
Meanwhile, Pro Bowl pass rusher Tamba Hali (ankle/knee) and corner
Sean Smith (groin) are iffy.
“I’ve said it before, it’s a tribute to (general manger John) Dorsey and his
guys, and bringing in competition,” Reid said of his team’s ability to
persevere through injuries. “Everybody is having a chance to play. I’m proud
of the guys for the way they are filling in and doing their job. That’s what
we expect and thats what they’re doing.”
Offensively the Chiefs expect their best player back in Charles, the superstar
runner who suffered a high ankle sprain in a Week 2 loss to Denver. Charles
was responsible for an astonishing 36.7 percent of Kansas City’s offense a
year ago and 19 of the team’s 41 offensive touchdowns.
Asked on Thursday if Charles will be ready for Monday night, Reid was hopeful,
“Yeah, I think so. He’s going to practice today. We’ll see how he does.”
Neither of these teams are all that explosive offensively so expect this one
to be a close-knit affair and essentially a 50-50 game where one play decides
it in the fourth quarter.
And history says things tend to go Belichick’s way when he is matched up with
Reid. The Chiefs’ second-year coach is 0-4 against Belichick in his career,
including a Super Bowl XXXIX loss to the Pats when Reid was the chief in
Sports Network predicted outcome: Patriots 20, Chiefs 14