The New England Patriots struggled mightily on offense in the first half, picking up less than 100 yards of total offense. The Kansas City Chiefs took full advantage of that, taking a 17-0 lead into the break thanks to two touchdowns from returning star RB Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs wouldn't stop the pressure for one minute, pulling away from the Patriots for a 41-14 blowout victory.
Here's 5 things we learned from this AFC showdown:
5. Jamaal Charles Is Back In A Big Way
Those fantasy football players who freaked out after Charles' injury-riddle start to 2014 can take a breath now. The Kansas City Chiefs star proved his value on Monday, picking up 108 combined yards (92 rushing, 16 receiving) and three touchdowns. The Chiefs definitely have options with budding talent Knile Davis in the backfield, but a healthy Charles could be the difference between pretending and contending.
4. The Patriots Offense Is In Serious Trouble
The Patriots had seven drives in the first 38 minutes of the game. Those drives ended in five punts and two Tom Brady turnovers (a fumble and an ugly interception). The offense would wake up on a lightning-quick drive in the middle of the third, going 81 yards in four plays thanks to Shane Vereen's 28-yard reception and an impressive 44-yard TD connection between Brady and WR Brandon LaFell.
However, that only cut a 27-0 deficit down to 27-7. The Patriots' attack would go back into hibernation as Brady (14-of-23, 159 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) would hit the pine in favor of rookie Jimmy Garoppolo following a shocking pick-six.
While Garoppolo would impress facing a 41-7 deficit (6-of-7, 70 yards, and his first NFL TD pass to Rob Gronkowski), the Patriots still have a multitude of questions to answer about the disappearance of their offense these past two weeks.
3. The Chiefs Defense Also Deserves A Round Of Applause
Part of New England's struggles on Monday was their inability to get out of their own way. Most of it was a masterful defensive performance by Kansas City. As evidenced by the aforemention LaFell touchdown, the Patriots do have weapons to score with. The Chiefs deserve a huge amount of credit for neutralizing that arsenal when it counted, frustrating the Pats (holding them to just over 100 yards in the first 40 minutes) to no end while giving the Chiefs offense time to build a lead New England couldn't come back from.
2. Tonight Was A Wake-Up Call For The Pats
The Patriots have fallen 27 points behind in a game for quite awhile, leading analyst Jon Gruden to remark that the team "didn't look like the Patriots." After being firmly dismantled by the Chiefs on both sides of the ball, a 2-2 New England team will have to look at themselves very closely in the mirror before welcoming in a talented Cincinnati Bengals team on Sunday Night Football next week.
If this particular Patriots team shows up then, New England will be 2-3 and in major panic mode.
1. Alex Smith Deserves More Credit Than He Gets
Are these the stats of an "adequate game manager?" Smith went 20-of-26 for 248 yards and three touchdowns (no INTs), picking apart the New England secondary seemingly at will. His 72% completion rate would get the job done for any NFL team. His offense's 443 (311 in the first half) total yards is more than some teams can manage in two games.
Smith's ability to put his best complementary players in positions to succeed proved valuable once again for the Chiefs. Don't sleep on a 2-2 Kansas City team that's starting to find its groove with the talented Smith at the helm.Back to the Kansas City Chiefs Newsfeed