FOXBORO -- Games like this one are why Josh McDaniels will always be in demand. The Patriots offensive coordinator may have hurt his Q-rating for the near future when he left the Colts at the altar in February but the game he called Sunday night – especially on the Patriots fourth-quarter possessions – was outstanding.
Start with the overall plan. The Patriots ran out of shotgun and spread situations early in the game almost as often as they threw it out of “heavy” personnel. It helped the offense put up 24 in the first half and score 16 in the fourth (a touchdown and three field goals) and Sony Michel put together another big game on the ground (106 yards on 24 carries). Michel, James White and Kenjon Barner combined for 161 yards on 33 carries. Fullback James Develin was a force in short yardage which is something Bill Belichick said in the postgame was an issue they needed to fix this year.
WHAT WE SAID BEFORE THE GAME
Michel’s third-and-1 conversion coming out of the two-minute warning was a must-have and they got it.
But there’s such volume to the Patriots playbook and McDaniels has such an outstanding feel, he was able to dial up two plays following the Michel conversion that picked up 55 total yards.
First, the Patriots got James White by himself in the left flat 1-on-1 in space and he picked up 16. On the next play, the underneath business froze the free safety and allowed Rob Gronkowski to go down the seam for a 39-yard gain to set up the game-winner.
“Each situation is a little bit different based on time, timeouts and score and so forth but this one ended up playing out good for us,” said Bill Belichick. “We had the final possession. We had the final opportunity and we made it. Josh called a great game. We had great execution on that drive by a lot of different people. But we work on that stuff every week. Both ways – if they had had it, if we had it, need a touchdown, need a field goal, so forth. We try to be prepared for that.”
It was obvious the Patriots loved their matchups against Kansas City and that -- coupled with the fact they knew Kansas City would probably put up plenty of points as well -- put them in an aggressive mode. They went for it on fourth down on their first drive after a Gronk drop on third down as Brady didn’t seem totally dialed in.
MORE HARD TRUTHS
But they kept going deep into their personnel and on their fourth drive they put it together with a variety of options -- Barner ran three times, Brady hit Gronk for 16 and Edelman for 14, Michel picked up 12 on two carries and Josh Gordon caught one for 6 before Brady hit Edelman for a 17-yard score on third-and-10.
On the next drive, it was White catching one for 17 then carrying for 5, Cordarelle Patterson getting 13 then a long one to Gordon that resulted in a 37-yard DPI.
The Patriots only failed to score on one of their second-half drives and that’s when Brady was strip-sacked on a third-and-10 in the third.
The Patriots put of 500 yards of offense. It’s an entirely different group than what they took the field with against the Lions and Jaguars now that Edelman’s back, Gordon’s being incorporated, and the running game has found its footing.