The first Sunday of the 2017 NFL season has come and gone. One in which the Chiefs did not play; but let’s not forget what the Chiefs did in their opener.
The Patriots were favored by nine points.
They were defending Super Bowl champions.
They had home field advantage and the GOAT quarterback.
The Patriots had only lost twice at home in over five years.
Throughout the first quarter, it looked as if New England would continue their reign of terror at Foxborough. They moved the ball with ease, and Tom Brady was untouched. Mike Gillislee scored on a short run to take the lead, and then they recovered a Kareem Hunt fumble – his first since HIGH SCHOOL – on the Chiefs first offensive snap. After not fumbling once on 858 collegiate touches, Hunt went over to the sideline to be encouraged by teammates.
A short time later, the Patriots were faced with third and six. Brady completed a short pass to Danny Amendola, but he was left a yard short. Going on the offensive, the team went for it. Gillislee took a short handoff and plunged into the right side. Nearly immediately Chiefs players began jumping off the pile and pointing in the other direction. Eric Berry had stuffed him cold. It was the first huge momentum swing, but certainly not the last.
Despite the earlier fumble, Andy Reid trusted the rookie Hunt. He gained chunks of yards as the Chiefs moved the football right down the field, and the drive ended with a short touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris – a 90-yard drive. The Chiefs got down again after a short field goal by the Pats, and allowed another short score by Gillislee on the next drive. Despite trailing the entire first half, the Chiefs never appeared concerned. And frankly, they shouldn’t have. Alex Smith was playing the game of his life, and would it only get better. They would end the half with a three yard touchdown catch from Kareem Hunt – capping off another 90-plus yard drive, and despite trailing, had already shown marked improvement from a season ago. They had driven 92 yards, something they had only done once all of last season.
On the second drive of the second half, the Chiefs came out with a stack alignment to both sides of the formation. Smith dropped back and heaved the ball to a wide open Tyreek Hill for a 75-yard touchdown. It was his fifth consecutive game with a 60-plus yard score, another NFL record attached to one of the league’s most exciting players. After a punt from both teams, the Patriots next drive ended in another Mike Gillislee touchdown run. His knack for getting short scores was very reminiscent of Legarette Blount from last season (18 TD). What wasn’t was the soon-to-be scoring output they would have nothing to stop.
The Patriots had all the pomp and ceremony, but in football, time moves fast. Everything the Patriots had done last year, the reasons why they were so heavily favored, didn’t matter. It was a new year, and they were about to get a first hand look at the new Chiefs offense.
After Stephen Gostkowski made it 27-21 late in the third quarter, the Chiefs moved the ball to their 22-yard line. On first down, Alex Smith motioned Tyreek Hill on a fake jet motion, before calmly waiting and dropping a pass into the oustretched arms of Kareem Hunt against Cassius Marsh in a blatant mismatch and he outruns him easily to the ball, and the rest of the Patriots defense, into the end zone for a 78-yard score. It gave the Chiefs the lead, but they were far from done. Their next score came with 5:19 in the fourth, when Hunt took a toss play to the right side and scored diving into the end zone. Hill (7-133-1) would leave the field, but it was discovered to simply be cramps. The Chiefs didn’t allow another Patriots drive to cross their thirty yard line, but did sack Tom Brady three times. Justin Houston had two of those, and clearly looked back to his old self. On their ensuing possession, Hunt took a toss play down to the Patriots 21 before Charcandrick West scored on the very next play.
When it was all said and done, the Chiefs had gained 537 yards and scored 42 points – both highs allowed by a Bill Belichick defense in New England (41 points, also against Kansas City (2014), was the previous high). Kareem Hunt’s set an NFL record for most scrimmage yards (246) in a debut in a game where his first touch was a lost fumble, and Alex Smith (28-35, 368 yards, 4 TD) posted his seventh career 300-yard passing game (3-4) and his two 75-yard TD passes matched what he did in his entire career, prior. It was only the second time in Brady’s last 52 home starts against the AFC that he lost, and ended New England’s 81-game win streak when leading at the half.
Kansas City not only gets an incredible win, but now hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots, and if both teams make the playoffs this game could prove monumental.
After Week 1, do the Chiefs look like the best team in the NFL? It’s hard to argue against it.
On a down note, the Chiefs lost Eric Berry for the season with a ruptured achilles – a big blow to the Chiefs defense. Would you trade this win for Berry’s health?
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