Two of the premier coaches in the NFL faced off in primetime on Sunday Night Football. New England (4-2) was able to keep pace with the Chiefs (5-1) in the conference after a last second field goal pushed them to victory. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Patriots power running game
Bill Belichick flipped the script on Sunday night, instead of relying on his future Hall of Fame quarterback, the longtime coach relied on a power run game. The Patriots used fullback James Develin in the I-formation and the offset I-formation, while also putting Rob Gronkowski at the tight end spot with his hand in the ground in order to establish a strong push in the run game. Kansas City ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed and the Patriots took advantage of it. New England ran for 173 yards and actually ran three more times than they passed. This power run game will probably be an outlier, but credit to Belichick for his willingness to adjust the game plan for specific game-to-game needs.
The first-year starter has burst onto the scene and what immediately jumps out about Mahomes is his raw arm talent. Mahomes can make plays off schedule while falling off his back foot reminiscent of the kinds of throws that are usually reserved for Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. In the first quarter, Mahomes darted a pass from his back foot and across his body to the waiting hands of Chris Conley, placing the ball where only his receiver could make the play. The Chiefs quarterback finished with 352 passing yards and four touchdowns but he did throw two interceptions, which led to points for the Patriots. Mahomes first interception came when Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower faked a blitz and dropped into coverage, fooling the young quarterback. The second came on a pass where Mahomes was rolling right and tried to throw across his body to tight end Travis Kelce, who was double covered. Mahomes should be able to fix those types of interceptions with experience. For now, Mahomes should remind Andy Reid of another talented gunslinger that he coached in Brett Favre.
Bill Belichick’s defensive mantra has remained constant since he came to New England: make your second or third best players beat us offensively. The Patriots doubled Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce all night and sacrificed the pass rushing of Dont’a Hightower and Trey Flowers in order to chip Kelce at the line. The game plan worked as the Pats held Kelce to five catches for 61 yards. However, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill were left with more room to roam free as a result. The pair combined for 327 total yards and four touchdowns. It was a tale of two halves for the Patriots, who led 24-9 at halftime. If these two teams meet again in the playoffs, Belichick might have to tinker with his game-plan because despite holding Kelce in check, Hill and Hunt nearly upended New England in Foxboro.