The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off a treacherous five-game stretch on Monday night in front of a national TV audience and it pretty much according to how most in the local and national media had planned. The New England Patriots pulled away from the Chiefs with a dominant second half, leading to a 34-3 final score.
Things looked promising early on for first-time starter Tyler Palko, filling in for the injured Matt Cassel, as the Chiefs drew first blood with a 26-yard Ryan Succop FG. Kansas City would hold that lead until the final five minutes of the first half.
However, the Patriots scored 10 points before half and took that momentum and used it to steamroll the Chiefs in the second half. New England all of a sudden was doing everything right: interceptions off tipped passes, big plays in the air and a special teams score.
After looking like they might hang tough in the first half, all of a sudden the Patriots had scored 34 unanswered points, including a touchdown in the final seconds. That was scored only because Chiefs head coach Todd Haley decided to call time out (three times) on that final drive despite being down 24 points.
Now the Chiefs get rewarded for their efforts with a short week of practice and a visit from the first-place Pittsburgh Steelers on national TV (again) Sunday night.
Here are the three players that stood out the most at Gillette Stadium for the Chiefs on offense, defense and special teams.
Offense: Dwayne Bowe
Monday night should have been all about “The Bowe Show”. The Patriots don’t have anyone in their secondary that can match up with Bowe’s combination of size and athleticism. The 28-yard pass he caught down the right sideline in the second quarter was the perfect example of New England not having an answer for him.
For the night Bowe caught seven of the nine passes thrown his way for a team-high 87 yards.
No matter if it’s Palko or Ricky Stanzi under center the rest of the way, Bowe needs to get at least 10 targets every game.
Defense: Derrick Johnson
After a couple of down games — along with most everyone else on defense — Johnson was back to his old ways in New England. The linebacker showed his great nose for the ball, racking up a game-high 12 tackles and breaking up a pass to Danny Woodhead that would have gone for a touchdown.
Despite the huge margin in the game, the Kansas City defense didn’t play all that bad, especially when you consider both Jon McGraw and Glenn Dorsey were inactive. Take away the garbage time timeout that the Patriots punched in only because Haley was calling timeouts and the defense surrendered just 20 points to one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Special Teams: Javier Arenas
The Chiefs returner did what so many other had failed to do this season: pick up yardage on Zoltan Mesko punts.
Entering action on Monday, the Patriots punter had only surrendered 94 total return yards, including a long of 18 seven weeks ago against the Oakland Raiders. Arenas not only had a 26 yard return, but nearly doubled Mesko’s season total with 4 returns for 71 yards.