Everyone… take a deep breath.
The dynasty isn’t over. Tom Brady is (probably) just fine. Bill Belichick hasn’t lost his touch. New England’s defense isn’t actually that bad. Let’s tone down the hot takes and understand that the Pats don’t abide by the same rules that other teams do. Here’s something to remember for all of you ready to tear up your New England Super Bowl bet slip: The last three times that Brady and Belichick lost their season opener, they went on to win the title (’01, ’03, ’14) . Dont’a Hightower will be back in Week 2, Brady will throw a touchdown pass at some point this year, and they still have two games against the Jets. It’s all good in Foxboro.
While losing wasn’t the biggest of deals for the Pats, it was everything for the Chiefs. Kansas City took a hard right hook in the first quarter of Thursday’s game, facing a 14-0 deficit before Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown was reversed. They battled back and showed grit we haven’t seen from an Andy Reid team in the past few playoff exits. This Chiefs team is absolutely for real.
The news of Eric Berry’s injury certainly puts a damper on this phenomenal regular season victory. Berry is the heart and soul of this defense, and will be sorely missed on the back-end of the talented secondary. Luckily for Kansas City, they are one of the few teams with a talented third safety in Daniel Sorensen. He should be able to slide in next to Ron Parker to form a quality pairing. There’s still a lot to like about this defense — namely stars Justin Houston and Marcus Peters. Houston was all over the Pats offensive line, particularly in the fourth quarter when he sacked Touchdown Tommy twice. Peters was quiet for the most part, but leads the NFL with 14 interceptions over the last two years. Although Berry will be missed, this defensive unit will be fine.
Offensively, Kansas City was dynamic. The Chiefs were able to attack the opposition at all levels. The Chiefs’ best offensive player, Travis Kelce, was mostly quiet on the night — as Matt Patricia’s defense keyed in on the All-Pro tight end. While multiple defenders crowded Kelce, it allowed for the other Chiefs skill players to shine. Tyreek Hill was as explosive as ever, burning the New England corners to the tune of a 7-reception/133-yard outing. His stellar evening included a 75-yard strike in which nobody was within 50 feet of him at any point. Demetrius Harris hauled in a monster touchdown grab over two defenders. Albert Wilson was involved in the passing game, converting four first downs. Even Charcandrick West got in on the action with a 21-yard touchdown scamper.
Then, there’s Kareem Hunt. The rookie from Toledo fumbled on the first carry of his career. After that, he proceeded to have the best debut a running back has had in NFL history. Hunt had 246 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. His longest score came on a pass where he blew by two Patriots defenders on a seam route in a David Johnson-like manner. While Hunt’s skill-set is obviously impressive, it was his ability to shake off the early mistake and retort with such a jarring performance that really turned heads. The fact Hunt was even in the game after that early fumble truly speaks volumes about how highly Reid thinks of his young tailback.
With all of these skill players having great performances, we can’t forget about who was making everything happen. 13-year vet Alex Smith may have had his best game of his entire career on Thursday (not hyperbole). Smith outdueled Brady on his home turf, and it wasn’t all that close. Completing 80-percent of his passes, Smith was both accurate and prolific as he threw for four touchdowns — including two that went for over 75 yards.
The knock on this squad over the years has been their lack of playmakers on the outside, and the unwillingness to take shots downfield. This KC offense is electric for the first time since Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson and Dante Hall donned Chiefs jerseys. Still just 33 years young, Smith got a great head start on what could be the best season of his career. Get used to seeing shots of Patrick Mahomes holding a clipboard, because Smith isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So don’t worry Pats fans, you and I both know they will be fine. For Chiefs fans though, get excited.
This year is going to be fun.