Patriots

Ex-NFL MVP praises Patriots defense as one ‘built’ to slow down Chiefs

Ex-NFL MVP praises Patriots defense as one ‘built’ to slow down Chiefs

The New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs twice last season, including an AFC Championship Game victory on the road, because their offense was able to rise to a higher level when needed.

If the Patriots continue their success over the Chiefs this season, the defense likely will be the reason. New England’s defense has enjoyed a near-perfect start through the first two weeks of the 2019 campaign. It’s allowed only three points over two weeks and has held opponents to a lackluster 5-for-27 mark on third downs. The Patriots also have five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Former NFL MVP and current CBS Sports analyst Boomer Esiason is impressed with what he’s seen from the Patriots defense so far, and he views the unit as one of the few able to combat the Chiefs’ high-scoring offense.

“One thing I will say in watching what they were doing (Sunday) and how they have played the first two games, one thing that is obvious to me and obvious to the guys at CBS is that they are built defensively to try to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs,” Esiason said during his Monday morning appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show”

“They have athletes in the secondary. They’re terrific, they’re smart, they pass guys off, they communicate, all the stuff that is going to be required to beat Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City band of merry men because those guys are flying up and down the field. I think the Patriots are probably one of the few teams that have the secondary that might be able to slow them down somewhat.”

The Patriots’ wins over the Chiefs last season included a 43-40 scoreline at home and a 37-31 triumph in overtime of the aforementioned AFC title game. New England’s defense held Chiefs quarterback and 2018 league MVP Patrick Mahomes in check for spurts during those games, but overall, he had his way with one of the league’s top secondaries.

The defending Super Bowl champs made a few notable additions to the defense in the offseason, including trading for pass rusher Michael Bennett, drafting Chase Winovich and bringing back linebacker Jamie Collins. 

Slowing down the Chiefs is going to be one of the toughest tasks the Patriots face all season. KC has scored 68 points through two games and Mahomes already leads (or has a share of the lead) in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

We’ll learn a lot about both teams, especially the Patriots defense, when they square off in Week 14 at Gillette Stadium.

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Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

Patriots downgrade S Patrick Chung, RB Damien Harris to out for Eagles game

The Patriots have downgraded safety Patrick Chung and running back Damien Harris from questionable to out for the game Sunday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Chung has had heel and chest injuries but did play in the Pats' last game before their bye week, the Nov. 3 loss to the Ravens. Harris appeared on the injury report for the first time on Friday with a hamstring issue. The rookie third-round pick from Alabama has only been active for two games this season.

The loss of Chung could impact the Patriots most in their coverage of Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Taking on tight ends is something Chung has excelled at. 

ESPN Mike Reiss reports that Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse, out with a knee injury since Oct. 10, did travel with the team to Philly so he will likely be active for the game.

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Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

Ten years ago today, on fourth-and-2, Bill Belichick made one of his most controversial decisions

It was one of the most controversial calls in Patriots history...and it didn't come from an official.

It was Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in the final minutes against the Indianapolis Colts. And it was 10 years ago today.

THE DECISION

It remains Belichick's most talked-about moves this side of Malcolm Butler. In a Week 10 matchup in Indianapolis, the 8-0 Colts faced the 6-2 Patriots in a high-scoring affair. Leading 34-28 but backed up at their own 28-yard-line and needing two yards for a first down, Belichick chose to go for it on fourth down and try and keep the ball out of quarterback Peyton Manning's hands.

THE PLAY

Tom Brady completed a pass to running back Kevin Faulk, who was driven backward by the Colts' Melvin Bullitt. After a measurement, Faulk was ruled short of the first down. Three Colts plays later, a Manning-to-Reggie Wayne TD pass and extra point with 13 seconds left a 35-34 victory.

THE AFTERMATH

There was plenty of second-guessing of Belichick's move. Had he outsmarted himself? Why didn't he punt and show more faith in his defense? 

“We thought we could win the game with that play,” he explained at the time. “That was a yard I was confident we could get.” Belichick had maintained it was more like fourth-and-long-1, rather than 2. Where the ball was spotted after the Faulk play is still the subject of debate.

Those Pats would go on to lose two of their next three, finish 10-6, still win the AFC East but get smoked by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in Foxboro in a wild-card playoff game. Manning's team won its first 14 games, then rested its regulars and lost twice before reaching its first Super Bowl as the Indy Colts and losing to the New Orleans Saints. 

TODAY

When Indianapolis reporter Kevin Bowen tweeted about the play's 10th anniversary on Saturday, it stirred up memories for former Colts linebacker Gary Brackens, who recalled the disrespect he felt from Belichick's decision to test the Indy defense. 

To this day, "Fourth-and-2" means only one thing to most NFL fans.

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