Patriots are in a whole new world they don’t like at all
One thing was made perfectly clear in the aftermath of the debacle at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
This is a new world for the New England Patriots.
In the locker room, at the podium, maybe on the highways and byways, the talk was about how hard the Patriots competed, fought, and showed spunk in their 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We were competitive right down to the final play,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “…I was proud of the way our guys competed for 60 minutes. I think I said that right off the bat, absolutely, 100 percent I’m with you. That’s my number one thing.”
Has that replaced winning, which has always been the number one thing around Gillette Stadium?
No, of course not. But then again, the Patriots don’t usually hear boos at halftime like they did on Sunday.
The big story line is they were certainly robbed at a chance to at least tie the game as officiating in the National Football League continues to sink to new depths. A touchdown was taken away from N’Keal Harry when an official from a bad angle ruled he had stepped out of bounds before hitting the pylon. The Patriots were out of challenges as they had to just minutes earlier get another bad call reversed, a Stephon Gilmore fumble recovery that possibly – but not 100 percent – could have been a scoop and score . As Harry said afterward on his own play, “We all knew it was a touchdown.”
These things don’t happen to the Patriots here. Not at Gillette, where they saw an end to a 20-game home winning streak.You never see Matthew Slater erupt on the sidelines to argue a call like you did on Sunday.
The Patriots never have to rely on the officials, they usually are able to take matters into their own hands. But they weren’t able to do it when, with 1:06 left,
Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland broke up a pass in the end zone for Julian Edelman. A potential game-tying drive died on the Kansas City 5.
A new world.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Brady said of a touchdown not being reviewed. “It happened. We still had a chance.”
Yes they did. But for the first time in front of the home crowd, whom they’ve always been able to please, the Patriots didn’t make the most of that chance.
They’re now having a December to forget, having lost to the Texans – a team that got blown out by Denver on Sunday – and now this catastrophe. They’ve been here before, having lost two straight last December at Pittsburgh and then the Mircale at Miami, which was really, when you think of it, worse than this.
“Obviously it gets frustrating,” said receiver Phillip Dorsett, himself the victim of a non-call when he was clearly interfered with. “Calls get made, calls don’t get made. I know it’s a tough job (officiating). But at the end of the day, it is what it is. I was definitely surprised. I was 99 percent confident I was interfered with.”
Dorsett was asked if the game was taken away from the Patriots.
“I’m not going to say that,” he said. “(The Chiefs) came out with a good game plan, they executed it. We just fell short.”
Of course he shouldn’t say that. The Patriots spotted the Chiefs a 23-7 lead, before Kansas City offered to hand it back to them with a blocked punt and the Kelce turnover leading to 10 points.
The Patriots usually gladly accept those gifts and turn them into victory. Instead, it was a quiet home locker room. The hats and T-shirts were possibly in the visitors locker room, as the Chiefs their fourth straight AFC West division title.
Wow, definitely a new world.
On offense, the Patriots are usually able to score enough points to overcome these officiating miscues, and their own bad play. Not this time. It seems like they’re relying on trick/gadget plays to get their offense back to acceptable levels.
Brady knows this is a new world. He’s known it for a long time.
“I may have certain experience doing things,” he said, “but this particular team as a whole hasn’t been through different situations. So you try to work through them over the course of the whole season, and we have three big games to go, and we’ve got to get back to winning football.”
“We fought,” Dorsett said. “We fought, we fought, we fought. We fought hard.”
Teams who talk about fighting after a game are usually the teams that lose.
That shouldn’t happen to the Patriots next weekend on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. At least you wouldn’t think so.
“Right now, I’m just worrying about the Bengals,” safety Duron Harmon said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve won.”
There you go. As you probably expected, the Patriots are on to Cincinnati.
That part of their world is the same.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.