Patriots

Five Takeaways: Brady delivers, defense holds on (barely)

Five Takeaways: Brady delivers, defense holds on (barely)

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the Patriots' wild 43-40 win over the previously unbeaten Chiefs.

BRADY FOURTH-QUARTER SURGE SAVES PATRIOTS

For most of the second half it appeared the Patriots were doomed for the same kind of second-half meltdown that sank them in last year's opener against the Chiefs, but Tom Brady wouldn't let it happen . . . even though he was one of the big reasons Kansas City was threatening to walk out of Gillette Stadium with another victory. With the Patriots still in command at 27-19 and moving the ball seemingly at will, Brady committed one of his worst gaffes of 2018. He looked, and looked, and looked down the field and couldn't find a receiver on third down, and held the ball long enough to be strip-sacked. That gave the Chiefs a short field and they quickly capitalized with a touchdown to cut the Patriots lead to 27-26. Brady led New England to a field goal that increased the lead to 30-26, but the Chiefs quickly regained the lead on their next possession. That's when No. 12 went to work. On third-and-four from the 4 late in the fourth quarter, Brady scrambled for a touchdown that put the Patriots on top, 37-33. Then later with the score tied 40-40, Brady's deep shot to Rob Gronkowski down the right sideline with just seconds remaining set up the Patriots to win the game. Stephen Gostkowski's kick won it, 43-40. 

SAFETY NOT FIRST

The Patriots got a rough performance from what is typically one of their most dependable position groups. Devin McCourty got beat for two Tyreek Hill scores. Duron Harmon took a bad angle on a Hill catch-and-run in the fourth quarter that turned into a 75-yard touchdown, and on one of the hill touchdowns allowed by McCourty, it seemed as though Harmon could've helped out his Rutgers buddy. The Chiefs have speed to burn offensively, but the Patriots are going to have to clean things up on the back end moving forward after a rollercoaster performance that nearly lost the Patriots the game. 

McCOURTY BROTHER MISCOMMUNICATION

Good thing we got this McCourty-brothers-can-communicate-by-a-wink story out early Sunday. They appeared to have a communication breakdown early in the third quarter when Patrick Mahomes found Kareem Hunt up the right sideline for a 67-yard score that might've had brought back painful Week 1 2017 memories for Patriots fans. Jason McCourty appeared to be the curl/flat defender on the play based on his drop, apparently expecting help over the top. It never came. Devin McCourty jumped a route in the intermediate area, leaving Jason to chase Hunt to the goal line. The touchdown made it a one-score game, 24-16. As referenced above, it was a rough rest of the second half for Devin McCourty, who was in coverage on Tyreek Hill for two touchdowns.

PRESSURE WINS THE FIRST HALF

The Patriots didn't record a sack in the first half, yet their quarterback pressures helped make them the first team to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone in the first half this season. I spoke to players during the week who insisted they were good with not getting sacks so long as they were getting off the field on third down and impacting quarterback throws. That's exactly what they did in the game's first half hour. Their biggest defensive plays of the first half? An Adrian Clayborn hit that forced a third-down incompletion deep in Patriots territory in the first quarter; a Clayborn and Adam Butler hit that helped force an incompletion in the end zone; a Dont'a Hightower hit that helped force a Duron Harmon pick. 

EDELMAN MATCHUP A WINNABLE ONE

Kendall Fuller came into the game allowing quarterbacks a 106.1 rating when targeting him in the slot. He was beaten easily by Julian Edelman in the second quarter for an easy pitch-and-catch touchdown to the corner of the end zone. Whenever the Patriots could find Kansas City's oft-overmatched slot corner on one of the most productive slot receivers in recent NFL memory, it was a matchup worth exploiting.

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Watch Rob Gronkowski's wild intro as WrestleMania 36 host

Watch Rob Gronkowski's wild intro as WrestleMania 36 host

Rob Gronkowski may be done with football, but he continues to find ways to entertain us on our television screens.

The former New England Patriots tight end is hosting WrestleMania 36 this weekend alongside WWE star Mojo Rawley. And as one would expect, Gronk brought the energy to start off the two-night event.

“[WWE] picked the right guy [to host WrestleMania], because I know how to start a party on a Saturday night and end it 30 hours later," Gronk quipped in his introduction.

Watch below:

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Between the WWE and his various other ventures, Gronkowski seemingly has been everywhere these last few weeks. He appeared on SmackDown, was revealed as White Tiger in "The Masked Singer," and participated in a virtual beer pong tournament for coronavirus relief.

In other words, retirement seems to be treating the future Pro Football Hall of Famer well.

Stephon Gilmore seems to think covering new Bills WR Stefon Diggs will be 'light work'

Stephon Gilmore seems to think covering new Bills WR Stefon Diggs will be 'light work'

Does New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore think covering new Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be "light work?" 

It certainly seems that way. Gilmore defended Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper after former Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan called Cooper a "turd" on ESPN's "Get Up."

The 29-year-old called Cooper one of the "toughest receivers in the league to cover," but when a fan responded saying Diggs will be tougher, another fan said he'd be "light work" and Gilmore liked that tweet. 

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Will Diggs really be that difficult for the Defensive Player of the Year to handle? It's tough to say, but Diggs put up some impressive numbers with the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Bills.

Listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast here: 

In five seasons with the Vikings, Diggs has 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns -- he's had 1,000-plus yards receiving in back-to-back years and has never played a full 16-game season. On the other hand, Gilmore had six interceptions last season with two touchdowns, 44 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. 

With the Patriots and Bills set to meet at least twice next season, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out.