Coming off the biggest win of their season over the New York Jets, the Patriots entered Monday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs with one of the easiest schedules to end the regular season in football. All of the remaining teams on the Patriots schedule have an under five-hundred record, the Denver Broncos being the only exception. The Patriots also had an added advantage over the Chiefs with the news that former Pats QB Matt Cassel would not be starting due to a broken hand, instead the nod went to backup QB Tyler Palko.
The game began a little out of character for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady seemed off target on many of his early throws due to a combination of good pressure by the Chiefs D and potential lingering discomfort in Brady’s injured throwing elbow. The Chiefs were the first on the score board with a 26 yard field goal in the 1st half. Everything changed in the 2nd quarter when a blown coverage allowed TE Rob Gronkowski to slip into the middle of the field for an easy catch and lots of room to run. Gronkowski showed why he has become a legitimate scoring threat outside of just the redzone by putting on the jets and taking the ball to the house for a 52 yard score. The touchdown put the Patriots in front 7-3, a lead they would firmly hold for rest of the game.
While the 52-yard connection to Gronk was quite the sight to see, the true Brady-to-Gronk highlight came in the 3rd quarter. After Brady engineered a drive down to the Chiefs’ 20-yardline, he threw a quick pass to Gronkowski in the flat. Gronkowski immediately shrugged off a hit, turned and stormed up the sideline toward the end-zone only to be met at the 5 yard-line by Chief’s LB Derrick Johnson barreling at him in full sprint. Somersaulting 5 yards through the air, Gronkowski landed neck first into the endzone. A bone rattling hit like that followed by what looked like a neck braking fall would paralyze any mortal being, but it merely dazed Gronk, who celebrated the touchdown with an atom smashing spike.
Gronkowski wasn’t the only one to provide the fans at Gillette Stadium with big plays, both Julian Edelman and Kyle Arrington added to the excitement. Known more for his under-producing receiving capabilities and Halloween antics, Edelman made an impact in classic Troy Brown fashion as a defense back and punt returner. Edelman zig and zagged his way to the end-zone on a 72 yard punt return and made a big tackle along with drawing a key holding call on defense. Arrington became the league leader in interceptions at 7 ints with 2 picks on the night. A big reason for the Patriots success this season has come from the play making ability of Arrington. He really makes opposing teams pay for their mistakes, a true Belichick player. Patriots won the game by a final score of 34-3.