Eagles

Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith help Chiefs stun champion Patriots in NFL opener

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Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith help Chiefs stun champion Patriots in NFL opener

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Winning at New England when the Patriots are coming off an historic Super Bowl victory is worth getting a little wild over.

That's not the Kansas City Chiefs' style. Not even when a rookie is setting records.

Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times and set an NFL mark in a 42-27 stunner Thursday night to open the NFL season. Hunt's 246 yards in his pro debut were a record since the 1970 merger.

"We're going to enjoy the heck out of it," coach Andy Reid said after a superb second half carried his team. "It's one of 16 and something to build on."

Judging by how they won, it certainly is. There were big plays all over the field. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were making them. Particularly Hunt.

"It started out just a little bit shaky, but it was all heart," Reid said of the third-round draft pick. "He was trying too hard."

Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and became the first quarterback with 300-plus yards, four TDs and no interceptions against coach Bill Belichick. The 42 points were the most the Patriots have allowed in Belichick's 17-plus seasons.

Coming off their sensational Super Bowl rally to a fifth Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots faded badly in the second half. A raucous sold-out crowd of 65,878 celebrated the unveiling of yet another championship banner, and there was plenty of talk about Tom Brady leading them to a 19-0 record.

After Week 1, though, they are winless.

"I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better," Brady said "It's a winning attitude, a championship attitude you have to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field."

It was the first time the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime, a span of 82 games. They were no match for the Chiefs in the last two periods.

Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yarder and Hunt put the Chiefs in front with a 78-yarder to punctuate Kansas City's charge after trailing 17-14 at halftime. Hunt also had a 58-yard scamper and finished with 148 yards rushing and 98 receiving. Hill had 133 yards through the air, and Smith went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.

"To start on your first carry like that and have it go like that, it would be hard to overcome for a lot of guys," Smith said of Hunt, from Toledo. "I thought it was awesome coach coming right back to him.

"There was a good chunk there where we were going as Kareem was going. He was really a big chunk of the offense tonight. For a young guy, we put a lot on him, in all facets of the offense tonight, and he was able to handle it.'

Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, didn't look too spry. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn't throw for a touchdown, finishing 16 for 36 for 267 yards.

"Just a very poor effort and we'll have to do a lot better," Brady said. "Didn't make a lot of plays tonight, actually."

Patriots newcomer Mike Gillislee scored on three short runs, becoming the first player since Terrell Owens of Philadelphia in 2004 to score three touchdowns in his debut with a new team.

And Kansas City aided the Patriots' cause with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Yet, in the end, the Chiefs looked like world-beaters.

At the beginning, it seemed like an extension of February's Super Bowl. Riled up, Brady and the Patriots tore through the opposing defense as if it belonged to, well, the Falcons, scoring in nine plays, with Gillislee surging in from the 2.

One play later, they were at it again as Hunt fumbled. The Patriots took over at the Kansas City 32 and appeared to go up 14-0 on Rob Gronkowski's diving catch. Then a replay review overturned the score, with NFL headquarters -- which now makes final decisions on such reviews -- determining the ball hit the ground as Gronk came down in the end zone.

Gillislee was stopped on fourth-and-inches at the KC 10 and the Chiefs, looking very much like the host team, marched 90 yards in 12 plays. Hunt made up for his early gaffe by gaining 25 yards on the tying drive, which Smith capped with a sharp 8-yard pass to Demetrius Harris.

The teams traded long touchdown drives, New England going 82 yards to Gillislee's second TD, the Chiefs covering 92 yards at the end of the half before Hunt ran in with a 3-yard swing pass.

Stephen Gostkowski's 25-yard field goal was the margin for New England's halftime edge.

But the crowd's fervor was silenced with Hill's long touchdown on which prized free agent addition cornerback Stephon Gilmore was torched. Hunt sped down the middle behind linebacker Kyle Van Noy and DE/LB Cassius Marsh to put Kansas City in front for good.

Short yardage
New England failed twice in the first quarter on short-yardage runs, by Gillislee and Super Bowl hero James White, and again in the fourth period, by Gillislee. If anyone proclaimed the Patriots were missing RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 TDs last season and was a beast in such situations, well, Gillislee, who came from Buffalo as a restricted free agent, ran in for a pair of 2-yard touchdowns and a 1-yarder.

Roger, Roger
Not only did the crowd revel in the video highlights from the Super Bowl, the fans booed vigorously when Commissioner Roger Goodell was shown talking on the sideline Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during warmups. A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell's face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature. Goodell watched the game from a suite, but not with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Injuries
Kansas City's star safety Eric Berry was carted off with 4:56 remaining with an Achilles tendon injury that Reid feared was a tear that would sideline Berry for the season.

The Patriots lost perhaps their best defensive player, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, in the third quarter with a knee injury. His absence showed on Hunt's long TD reception. ... WR Danny Amendola left in the fourth quarter with a head injury. He's projected as New England's slot receiver with Julian Edelman out for the season.

Up next
Chiefs: Host Philadelphia on Sept. 17.

Patriots: Visit New Orleans on Sept. 17.

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

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USA Today Images

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

Washington head coach Jay Gruden has faced Carson Wentz just three times so far.

That's all he needed to think Wentz is special.  

"I think he's progressed at a rate as fast as anybody I've seen really," Gruden said on a conference call with Philly reporters on Thursday. "His ability to make plays in the pocket, his ability to stay in the pocket in the face of a rush and still deliver balls accurately, his command of the offense. 

"I think he's already proven this short in his career that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, quite frankly, and he's going to be for a long time. And I don't know how he got to Philadelphia. And I'm very upset about that." 

Wentz is 1-2 against Washington in his first three games, but that first win came in this season's opener on the road. In that game, Wentz completed 66 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, for a passer rating of 96.8. 

And Wentz has gotten even better since then. He's now the favorite in Vegas to win the NFL MVP. 

When asked how daunting it might become to face Wentz twice per season for the foreseeable future, Gruden pointed out that it's similar to the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. Then he pointed out they still have to face Eli Manning twice per season. 

"Every week it seems like we're playing against an excellent quarterback and knowing that Wentz is going to be there for a long period of time just puts a few more gray hairs on my head," Gruden said. "But love the competition and it's our job to get after him and make him uncomfortable." 

While Wentz is clearly the Eagles' quarterback of the future, things are a little cloudier in Washington, where Kirk Cousins is in his second year of playing on a franchise tag. 

Gruden said the "intent" is to have Cousins for the long-term, but it's already been a long saga and there's still no deal in place. 

Cousins has had a crazy career path. He began as Robert Griffin III's backup after being taken three rounds later in the same draft in 2012. But he won the starting job and he's started every game for Washington the last three seasons. 

Thursday, on a conference call with Philly reporters, Cousins said he thought there was a good chance the Eagles were going to draft him in 2012. He felt that way after meeting with Howie Roseman and Andy Reid before the draft. But instead, the Eagles took Nick Foles 14 spots ahead of him. 

After watching the Eagles rotate quarterback since then, Cousins doesn't have any hard feelings. 

"I think the Eagles have ended up with the guy that they want," Cousins said. "I think they're really excited about Carson Wentz and for good reason. They're one of the best teams in the league on third down, and some of the plays he's making off-schedule are very special. I think they're very content and I'd like to think the Redskins are as well. Hopefully, it can make for a great rivalry that a lot of fans can get behind and get excited about, hopefully, for many years ahead."

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.