Pardon me . . .
‘Scuse me . . . !?
For just a second, could you stop doing that with your hand?!
Listen, there’s no sidestepping what we watched Monday night between the Chiefs and Rams was unique and historic. It was brought to us by the perfect confluence of head coaches, quarterbacks, skill-position players, defensive philosophies and timing.
(You’re still doing that with your hand . . . )
But this Pro Bowl in November was not the “new normal” (swallowing bile at having typed that phrase). The game was an aberration.
(Thank you for stopping . . . )
Styles make fights. The styles of both teams dovetailed so neatly and there was so much belief from both coaches that they both were saying, in essence, we just want the ball back. If we have to practically let you score by not deviating from our moronic, ears-pinned pass rush that continually gives room for you to step up and pick us apart, fine. We will do that.
Of the 105 points scored last night, 35 came after turnovers (either directly on returns or the drives that followed). Patrick Mahomes turned it over five times -- three picks and two fumbles.
I mean, God, he’s fun to watch but the Chiefs now have two losses and both can be laid -- in large part -- at Mahomes’ feet.
The first came against the Patriots and that was triggered by an end-zone pick Mahomes threw at the end of the first half and a pick he threw to Dont'a Hightower that was returned inside the 5 and set up a touchdown.
Mahomes gets the concept. “The turnovers just changed the game,” he said. “I think I gave them 21 points, pretty much, through turnovers. It’s kind of just like at the New England game, you can’t give good teams points turning the ball over.”
But it is now in his DNA and the DNA of the 2018 Chiefs to play a particular style and that style -- while it yields amazing results -- also invites a level of disaster.
The irony is that, while the Chiefs were dropping jaws and causing consternation in the six-state region, the Patriots were closing the gap on the No. 1 seed in the AFC precisely because of the game the Chiefs lost here and the one they lost last night.
Both were lost because of horrific, undisciplined, run-past-the-quarterback defense, too many penalties (13 last night, 5 for 58 against the Patriots while New England took zero) and Mahomes giveaways.
How would Bill Belichick ever deal with trying to stop such breathtaking offenses? Probably the same way he did when he stopped the Bills and the K-Gun in the 1990 Super Bowl or the 2001 Rams in Super Bowl 36 or Atlanta in Super Bowl 51. Or the way the Giants did when they grounded the Patriots in Super Bowl 42.
What you saw last night was not real life. The Patriots wouldn’t play into that track meet like the Rams were willing to.
They’d attempt to keep the seams in their pass rush covered up so that Mahomes couldn’t walk through them. They’d try to drive him to his left because -- as they learned -- he still has plenty of arm when rolling right. They’d try -- Lord, how they’d try -- to avoid the mile-long touchdowns Kansas City has scored on them in the past two meetings by playing as soft as necessary until the red zone.
Now, it’s important to note that the 2018 Patriots haven’t yet shown they have anywhere near the defensive capability to dictate like the 1990 Giants, or the ’01 and ’16 Patriots.
But they would at least be able to have a working plan that had a chance at sending the Chiefs home.
The Patriots weathered a pretty ridiculous storm from the Chiefs earlier this season.
Even with Mahomes costing the Chiefs at least 13 points (missed Kareem Hunt for TD on first drive, settled for FG; threw pick to Hightower leading to TD; end zone pick blowing another likely FG), he still got them to 40 by exploiting Patriots missteps.
The Patriots put their fastest player -- Devin McCourty -- on Tyreek Hill. and he couldn’t keep up with him. Jason McCourty underrated Mahomes’ arm strength: Touchdown to Kareem Hunt. Duron Harmon took false steps on Hill downfield late in the game: Touchdown.
The Patriots made it through because Tom Brady -- remember him? -- pulled a rabbit out of his hat late and moved the Patriots downfield for a field goal.
If there’s a rematch in the playoffs, acknowledge this going in: These Patriots have no speed at the linebacker level, the safety play between Patrick Chung, Harmon and Devin McCourty hasn’t been off the charts and quarterbacks who can extend plays and/or gain yards on their own are murder on them.
But, while Brady had a moronic turnover that led to a touchdown in the first meeting as well, Mahomes doesn’t figure to wean himself off of those costly plays for a while yet.
The Chiefs might have scored 70 last night if it weren’t for the giveaways. That’s one way to look at it.
Or they might have scored 28 had they been in with a team that didn’t want to come off the porch and play with them. The Rams were more than willing to. Will the Patriots be?
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