March 4, 2024


Finally, the Patriots bought what they wanted Sunday.

Bailey Zappe had a good first half however within the second half he might solely watch after a failed conversion on fourth down. Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Employees

Welcome to the Unconventional Evaluation, an on the spot response to standouts, stats, and story strains from the Patriots’ most up-to-date recreation . . .

For higher and worse, that was most likely the most effective a sensible Patriots fan might ask for.

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The Patriots performed nearly one full sturdy half in opposition to the defending Tremendous Bowl champion Chiefs Sunday. Bailey Zappe went 17 of 19 for 141 yards and a landing, enjoying with poise and even some daring, and the Patriots led, 10-7, late within the second quarter.

Then the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid Chiefs did what the Tom Brady/Invoice Belichick Patriots did so usually of their two-decade heyday. They exerted their will on the sport, scoring 17 factors in 5 minutes, 35 seconds of recreation motion from the 35-second mark of the second quarter till Clyde Edward-Helaire’s landing catch with 10:11 remaining within the third.

The Patriots fought, however that solely goes to this point in countering their present expertise deficit. Finally, the Patriots bought what they wanted Sunday. A minor ethical victory in understanding that they have been aggressive, and a Carolina Panthers win that enhances their possibilities of touchdown the No. 1 general choose.

Some additional ideas, upon rapid evaluate . . .

Three gamers who have been price watching

Gamers prompt within the Unconventional Preview: Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Hunter Henry: The Patriots tight finish apparently has the rapport with Zappe that we thought he had with Mac Jones again in 2021. After catching two landing passes in Zappe’s first begin of the season in final Thursday’s win over the Steelers, Henry was the Patriots’ only cross catcher once more in opposition to the Chiefs. He completed with seven catches — six earlier than halftime — for 66 yards, each crew highs. He additionally punctuated one of many Patriots’ greatest and boldest offensive performs of the season, catching a 16-yard landing cross on fourth and a pair of halfway via the second quarter that tied the rating at 7-7. Henry nearly had a second landing on the Patriots’ subsequent possession, however his sliding seize at the back of the tip zone was negated by a blatant Conor McDermott holding penalty. Henry now has six of the Patriots’ 14 receiving touchdowns this season.

Rashee Rice: Kelce has needed to do much more heavy lifting for the Chiefs offense this season than ever earlier than due to the restricted expertise that shares the huddle with him and Mahomes. However the Chiefs’ secondary choices got here via. Working again Edwards-Helaire offered 101 complete yards, a leaping landing reception, a 48-yard catch-and-run, and a 20-yard run. However Rice, a rookie broad receiver, proved each dependable and environment friendly. He caught all 9 of his targets for 91 yards, together with a 24-yarder on the sport’s first play from scrimmage. Rice additionally tallied the sport’s first landing, a 4-yarder on a shovel cross from Jerick McKinnon.

Christian Barmore: It’s this straightforward. He’s been enjoying like a bona fide All-Professional for a number of weeks now, and he should be thought-about a cornerstone of this powerful and resilient Patriots protection. Barmore completed with six tackles — two for a loss — and a sack, burying Mahomes for a 7-yard loss early within the second quarter. He additionally was bearing down on Mahomes and appeared intent on performing a very impolite low cost double-check on the quarterback within the second quarter, main Mahomes to rush a throw that Marte Mapu picked off. Barmore’s growth has been one of many few satisfying story strains of this season.

Christian Barmore leads the Patriots with 5.5 sacks after taking down Patrick Mahomes within the second quarter.

Grievance of the sport

The Patriots have been sloppy from the get-go, when Jalen Reagor’s 46-yard return of the opening kickoff was referred to as again after Brenden Schooler — who has come to embody their inconsistent self-discipline — was referred to as for holding.

However the Patriots have been actually achieved in by a penalty that was referred to as however shouldn’t have been, and to a smaller diploma, one that ought to have been however wasn’t.

The previous first: Early within the third quarter, with the Chiefs main, 14-10, Jonathan Jones pressured a Skyy Moore fumble, which Jabrill Peppers recovered and returned 10 yards to the Patriots 41. However rookie cornerback Alex Austin, beginning as a result of J.C. Jackson has apparently renewed his lease within the doghouse, was flagged for defensive holding, the tickiest and tackiest of ticky-tack calls. The Chiefs ultimately punctuated the 11-play drive with a 29-yard Harrison Butker subject objective.

As for the penalty that was not referred to as, properly, we don’t make a behavior of lamenting these on this house. However when Barmore was blatantly hauled down as he closed in on Mahomes on what turned a 20-yard completion to Rice on a 3rd and 9 simply earlier than the two-minute warning, it was beautiful {that a} flag was not thrown. The Chiefs ended that drive with McKinnon’s 8-yard TD reception with 35 seconds left.

The Patriots gave the Chiefs loads of probabilities to punish them for errors. That’s onerous sufficient to beat with out the officers additionally giving the Chiefs a few breaks.

Three notes scribbled within the margins

Mack Wilson Sr. completed with a sack and simply two tackles, but it surely was most likely his most impactful efficiency in his three seasons as a Patriot. He clobbered McKinnon after a 5-yard achieve on a third-and-16 play on the Chiefs first possession of the second quarter; arrived in tandem with Deatrich Clever Jr. (who bought full credit score for the sake) to take down Mahomes for a 10-yard loss on a third-and-2 play early within the fourth quarter; and buried Mahomes himself for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-8 play with a little bit over 4 minutes remaining . . . In his first motion of the season, Kevin Harris completed with 25 speeding yards on 4 carries, the identical quantity of yardage that Ezekiel Elliott gained in 11 makes an attempt. Harris’s 18-yard burst up the center for a landing with 8:24 left within the recreation offered the ultimate factors . . . Tough stretch for Kelce with a little bit over 11 minutes remaining within the third quarter, when he dropped a cross ultimately zone with Kyle Dugger honing in, took a giant hit on a shovel cross that gained 4 yards, then noticed a third-and-6 cross thrown his manner fall incomplete. Hopefully Taylor was on the concession stand throughout that sequence.

Predicted rating: Chiefs 24, Patriots 20

Remaining rating: Chiefs 27, Patriots 17