Patriots

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Butker's field goals send Chiefs to 29-20 win over Redskins

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Butker's field goals send Chiefs to 29-20 win over Redskins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After Harrison Butker missed the first field-goal attempt of his NFL career, Chiefs coach Andy Reid walked over to the rookie and prepared to instill a little bit of confidence.

"He said, `I got it. I got it. I was just off a tad,'" Reid recalled of their brief exchange. "He kind of gives you that feeling that everything's going to be OK."

Better than just "OK."

Butker responded to his first-half miss Monday night by drilling three field goals in the second half, the last a go-ahead 43-yarder with 8 seconds remaining that helped Kansas City beat the Washington Redskins 29-20 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL.

"I didn't have butterflies. I felt confident," said Butker, who was claimed off the Carolina practice squad to replace injured kicker Cairo Santos. "I knew it was going to come down to a field goal. I felt pretty calm. I was excited; I wasn't nervous."

The Chiefs (4-0) an exclamation point on the win when linebacker Justin Houston picked up a fumble as the Redskins (3-2) were trying to keep the game alive and returned it for a game-ending touchdown.

The last time there was only one unbeaten team through the first four weeks of the season was 2010, when the Chiefs were the final team standing. They went on to win the AFC West.

"I mean, it's the NFL. It's any given Sunday for a reason," said Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who had seven catches for 111 yards and a score. "All these teams are scheming everybody up. It's a testament to this team for especially not only being 4-0, but the way we've won."

Alex Smith threw for 293 yards with touchdowns on the ground and through the air, and his 37-yard strike to Albert Wilson on a broken play that set up Butker's go-ahead kick. Kareem Hunt added 101 yards on the ground for the rookie's fourth straight 100-yard effort.

"Winning is more meaningful," Hunt said with a smile. "I could have 50 yards as long as we win."

Kirk Cousins had 220 yards passing and two touchdowns for Washington, but his throw to the end zone with 50 seconds left was dropped by Josh Doctson and forced the Redskins to kick a field goal.

That missed opportunity came back to haunt them less than a minute later.

"We'll go back and try to look at different plays throughout the game that could have made a big difference," Cousins said. "A tough one to lose. Felt like we had a chance there and didn't get it done."

The Redskins stunned the Chiefs early when Cousins found Terrelle Pryor over star cornerback Marcus Peters for a 44-yard touchdown pass, then drove to the goal line before settling for a field goal.

But the plucky Chiefs slowly fought their way back into the game.

Smith started to find his athletic tight end down the seam, then hit Kelce with a 17-yard TD strike late in the first half. The two connected again on third down shortly after the break, and Smith scored a few plays later when he fooled the defense with a quarterback-keeper.

The Redskins needed fewer than 2 minutes to answer: Cousins' 69-yard pass to Vernon Davis set up a short throw to Ryan Grant, who also beat Peters, for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead.

But that's when injuries began to take their toll: The Redskins lost cornerbacks Josh Norman, Montae Nicholson, Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar along with safety Deshazor Everett, and in the fourth quarter had just four available defensive backs.

"I was looking up and I'm like, `Man, we've got all backups in," Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger said. "If you're number is called, you've got to step up. We've got to get better at that as well."

It was 17-all after Butker made his first field goal, and his 32-yard kick gave Kansas City the lead back. The Redskins tied the game once more when Dustin Hopkins hit from 40 yards with 47 seconds left, but that turned out to be enough time to get Butker in position for the winning kick.

"He has a leg," Hunt said, "so I wasn't too worried. Just make it routine. He had a rough start but honestly, I believed in him, that he was going to bounce back."

Tomlin/Steelers vs. Belichick/Patriots: Different strokes for different folks

Tomlin/Steelers vs. Belichick/Patriots: Different strokes for different folks

FOXBORO -- Mike Tomlin has been Pittsburgh’s head coach since 2007, named to the post at the ripe old age of 35. A year later, he and the Steelers won a Super Bowl.

More Lombardi Trophies seemed certain to follow, but -- despite a half-dozen seasons of 10 wins or more -- Pittsburgh and that stacked roster has come up short ever since, including an AFC Championship Game loss at New England last season.

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You might think that would dim Tomlin’s confidence. No chance. He may be a decade older, but he still has oodles of swagger. We saw that earlier in the year when during an interview with Tony Dungy prior to Sunday Night Football, he admitted to looking ahead to the Steelers’ matchup with the Pats.

"I'm going to embrace the elephant in the room. (The game) going to be fireworks," Tomlin said in that conversation. "And it's probably going to be Part 1. That's going to be a big game. But probably, if we're both doing what we're supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one."

You’d never hear Bill Belichick go that route and he’s won five Super Bowls here in New England. We are now conditioned to believe that’s not only the right way but the only way to do business. I would tend to agree. History doesn’t lie.

Tomlin, however. isn’t adopting Belichick’s public approach. He says he’ll be forthright with the media because he’s doing what he’s supposed to do in his job. Perhaps that’s a little jab at Belichick and the Pats, who have long been less than forthcoming.

“I don’t know if any of us were looking ahead, to be quite honest with you," he said "That was the way it was described by (the media). We were simply answering questions. We were doing our professional due diligence. When we do interviews and people ask us about potential big games down the road, we’re going to politely answer questions and do so honestly. That’s not us down the road, that is us simply performing our professional duties.”

An exuberant fellow, Tomlin thinks it’s foolish to not admit there are larger things at play during the course of a season.

“If you set out on the season to be world champs, obviously you’re going to play in significant games along the way,” he said. “The road gets increasingly narrower. That is part of being [on] the pursuit of a world championship play. It’s ridiculous to goal set and not to acknowledge natural things that occur along the way if you are committed to the pursuit of your goals.”

To reach those goals, Tomlin’s Steelers usually need to go through the Patriots. This season is no different. Right now, Pittsburgh is the top seed in the AFC. The Pats are number two but can reclaim that spot with a win Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots may not have a real rival in the AFC East, but what they have with the Steelers is real.

“It's an awesome thing to be a part of," said Tomlin. "Not something that I or we take for granted. To be in significant games is just part of chasing what it is that we're chasing and to have a routine dance partner that just speaks to their commitment and achievements in similar ways. We're excited to be a part of it. We don't take it for granted. We realize that these type games are just part of what we desire to be.”

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Cannon on season-ending IR among Patriots moves

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Cannon on season-ending IR among Patriots moves

Patriots starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday in a series of roster moves announced by the team.MOR

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As had been reported Tuesday, wide receiver Kenny Britt, released by the Browns last week, was signed. Also, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois was re-signed (he had been released Dec. 2) and linebacker Jonathan Freeny and wide receiver Bernard Reedy were released.

Cannon, 29, has missed six games, including the past five, with an ankle injury. The veteran offensive lineman had his best season in 2016 and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the top right tackle last season. LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming have been filling in for him.