The NFL season began with a few big stories. Ezekiel Elliott will still serve his suspension; the season opener of the Bucs and Dolphins was moved to November as hurricane Irma bore down on Miami. Then there was the unwritten headline about the defending champs. How far into the season would the Patriots get without a loss?
For the team that has racked up massive numbers of wins in the past decade, the question was not out of the ordinary. It seemed a foregone conclusion that the team would win its home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no doubt the Chiefs are a good team but are they a complete team? Most people didn’t think so, and they didn’t give KC any shot of coming into Foxborough and getting a W. But that’s exactly what they did.
For some time, it didn’t look like it would go that way. Rookie KC running back Kareem Hunt put the ball on the turf in his first NFL carry. But he followed that miscue up with a three-TD, record-setting performance in his first full game on the big stage.
Just how good was Hunt? Well, he put 246 yards on one of the best defenses in football. At least, it was one of the best defenses. And it wasn’t a fluke. Sure, the Chiefs were killing it, making big plays all over the field. But you don’t get 246 with a few big runs. You have to be consistent pounding that rock. And the Chiefs were working through the air as well. Quarterback Alex Smith was sensational, tossing two deep ball touchdowns and putting more than 300 yards on what is a dependably tough New England secondary. Right, and those two long touchdown passes were joined by two more shorter tosses for six points, giving Smith 4 TDs and no picks … against the Pats, who, remember, were playing at home.
This was supposed to be a tough game, but it was never supposed to be such a lopsided loss. This was supposed to be the first win in a 16-0 regular season, not a national embarrassment. The day after the game, both prognosticators and fans are wondering if the Chiefs are just that good or if the Pats just laid an egg on opening day. So, Pats fans, here’s the question: Are you worried yet? Is there trouble in New England’s Title Town? Until now, it was only the New York Football Giants that seemed to be able to get the better of the Patriots. Atlanta thought they had them last year, before suffering a horrific let down in the fourth quarter to cede yet another Lombardi trophy to Belichick and Brady.
Now, it could be anyone’s ball game. And that’s not a position the Patriots are accustomed to.