Patriots

Patrick Mahomes explains what Chiefs must do vs. 'very good' Patriots defense

Patrick Mahomes explains what Chiefs must do vs. 'very good' Patriots defense

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has never beaten Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in two career matchups, but it's hard to fault the reigning NFL MVP for those defeats.

Mahomes combined to complete 39 of 67 pass attempts for 647 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions in those losses. The Patriots defense did very little to slow down Mahomes, and unless they find some adjustments to make, the outcome of Sunday's Week 14 showdown at Gillette Stadium could be very different than last season's results.

Here is Mahomes' take on the Patriots defense ahead of this weekend's game:

The Chiefs haven't been afraid to take big shots against the Patriots with Mahomes at quarterback, and they've hit on several of them, too.

In the Week 6 matchup at Gillette Stadium last season, Mahomes connected on 67-yard and 75-yard touchdown passes to Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, respectively, in a 43-40 loss. In the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium, Mahomes threw three touchdown passes, including a 23-yard scoring play to Damien Williams. Mahomes also completed passes of 21 and 27 yards on Kansas City's final drive of regulation that set up a field goal to force overtime.

Mahomes isn't on pace to match his 5,000-plus yards passing and 50 touchdowns from his MVP-winning 2018 season, but he's still playing at a very high level in 2019. Patriots safety Devin McCourty believes the experience Mahomes has gained will be a huge benefit to him.

"I think with any player, you get better with experience, understanding situations," McCourty told reporters Wednesday. "Any mistakes you make the year before or the game before, if you get in that situation again, you kinda learn from that. But it's hard. The guy played so well last year and did so many things at a high level. To really do that again the next year, to me, is the hardest thing, and he's doing it. He's still able to do things that you really wouldn't expect quarterbacks to do. I think overall, the understanding for him will just get better. I think it was against Tennessee and he was rolling to his left, and it looks like he might have a window to throw, but there's no one in front of him, so he just runs in for a touchdown. I think those little things will always continue to improve for him. The worst thing for a defense is he stays the same. We kinda hope he gets worse (laughs)."

Mahomes represents the toughest challenge of the season for McCourty and the rest of the Patriots pass defense. New England's pass defense has played very well through 12 games and ranks first in the league in yards allowed per game and interceptions, among other stats. Last week's loss to the Houston Texans was a rare subpar performance from this unit, as the AFC South team tossed four touchdown passes (the same amount the Pats had given up in the first 11 games combined).

Another lackluster effort from the Patriots pass defense could be devastating for the defending Super Bowl champs. How so? A loss for New England would pretty much end its hopes of securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race.

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How Jimmy Garoppolo won his 49ers teammates over soon after Patriots trade: 'It was sick'

How Jimmy Garoppolo won his 49ers teammates over soon after Patriots trade: 'It was sick'

MIAMI -- George Kittle was dressed as a pirate. It was the day before Halloween of his rookie season. He was going to celebrate the holiday as any 24-year-old would. Then, as any 24-year-old would, he peeked down at his phone to check on a notification.

Jimmy Garoppolo had been traded by the Patriots to Kittle's 49ers. He had a new quarterback.

"I said, 'Wow, that's really interesting.' It was cool," Kittle remembered. "Jimmy G. Two Super Bowls. Hell of a leader. It's fun to have someone like that."

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Kittle and other Niners this week remembered the deal that sent Garoppolo to San Francisco and in the process changed the course of the franchise. They couldn't have known exactly what they had then. Garoppolo had only two NFL starts to his name. But now, sitting in front of microphones in Miami in the days leading up to Super Bowl LIV, they couldn't believe their good fortune that Garoppolo landed in their laps. 

The hints that they had something in Garoppolo came early. 

"Honestly, it sounds cliche but it's real, it was at the first practice," said fullback Kyle Juszczyk. "He ran the scout team the first day. And that first period he absolutely diced our defense. You could see it in his footwork, his mechanics, the confidence that he emitted. You could see that this guy was the real deal."

For Kittle, the sign came loud and clear that his offense had a new leader. It came before Garoppolo even made his first throw from under center. 

"It was funny, his first play under center, he has a really good cadence," Kittle said, referring to the quarterback's calls at the line of scrimmage. "He has a good voice for it. Right after he said, 'Hut! Hut! Hike!' for the first time, everyone was like, 'Whoa! Nice!' It was sick."  

"Very authoritative," offensive tackle Joe Staley said of Garoppolo's line-of-scrimmage vocals. The 13-year veteran smiled and added, "He's commanding. Lets you know he's there."

It came together quickly for Garoppolo in his second professional stop. He started five games after being traded, winning all five, and completing 67.4 percent of his passes at a clip of 8.8 yards per attempt. 

He tore his ACL after three games the following season, but rediscovered his 2017 form this season. The Niners went 13-3 with Garoppolo taking the snaps. He completed 69.1 percent of his throws (fourth in the NFL), threw 27 touchdown passes (sixth), and put up an 8.4 yards per attempt figure (third). 

"I didn't really know much, actually," Staley said of Garoppolo's days in New England. "I remember the one game he had in Arizona where he started and did really, really well. But didn't know much. Didn't have much of a reaction [to the trade] either way. Knew everyone was really high on him. 

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"Then he came in here and he really blew me away. In the huddle. All the little nuances of being a quarterback. The command that he had. His quick release. You could definitely tell that he was trained in that Patriots system as far as getting rid of the ball fast, which is awesome for an offensive lineman. He's continued to grow and develop since he's been here. It's been awesome to see him get to this point."

The Niners are back in the Super Bowl after a 4-12 record last season. Back in the Super Bowl with a chance to win one for the first time since January 1995. And thanks in part to Tom Brady continuing to play at an MVP level the season Garoppolo was dealt, thanks to the Patriots holding onto Garoppolo until midseason that year, all it cost the Niners to change everything was a second-round pick.

"I think," Juszczyk said, "we got him for a bargain."

Tom Brady reacts to Dante Scarnecchia's retirement with heartfelt message

Tom Brady reacts to Dante Scarnecchia's retirement with heartfelt message

On Tuesday, longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia decided to call it a career.

Several Patriots players bid farewell to the soon-to-be 72-year-old via Instagram, including quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady left a comment on the Patriots' Instagram announcement, commending Scarnecchia's for his unmatched dependability:

Couldn't have been a greater man or coach! What a privilege to play and work with Dante for two decades. The definition of the Patriot Way - consistent and dependable EVERY DAY!!

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Five of the Patriots' six Super Bowl titles came with Scarnecchia coordinating the blocking schemes that protected Brady.

As for who will take on the difficult task of replacing Scar, assistants Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo appear to be the leading candidates.