Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MNF: Patriots blow-out Kansas City, Brady says "wish we played better"

This seems to be a recurring theme in New England.

The New England Patriots' offense blows an opponent out of the water and quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are quoted as saying "we didn't play to our potential" in the post-game interview–or press conference.

Almost as if they were expecting perfection. Not a bad way to approach each week, to say the least.

Albeit, the offense did start a bit shaky, running 12 plays for just 33 yards and being shut out in the first quarter of play. Brady was sacked and stripped of the ball to end New England's third drive early in the second quarter, and was sacked two more times the following drive (three total throughout the game).

But it's the NFL we're talking about. Can't every offense go out every drive and play perfect football. On its fifth drive of the game, New England went out and produced a six-play, 85-yard scoring drive which was capped by a 52-yard strike down the center of the field to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The rest was a piece of cake for the 7-3 Patriots.
The offense produced 34 points on 380 total yards with just the early Brady fumble being its only turnover of the game. Kansas City scored first on an opening quarter field goal off the foot of Ryan Succop, but that's the only points the Chiefs managed against New England's 31st ranked pass defense.

For Kansas City Monday night was certainly a learning experience. Former Pittsburgh Panther south paw, Tyler Palko, was making his first career NFL start. Before tonight, the lefty had just 13 career pass attempts in the league. He has had minimal experience with four different NFL teams, a UFL team and a CFL team.

Though he fared fairly well early on, filling in for the injured Matt Cassel who is expected to miss the remainder of the season, he ended the game with three picks and had just one scoring drive to show from it.

The three interceptions make his first impression rather weak (though one was deflected off a receiver's hands), but I think it's tough to pin the 34-3 loss solely on the shoulders of Palko. Not only was this his first start, but he was also forced in to throwing the ball 38 times (completed 25 passes for 236 yards). He received minimal help from the running game, who collectively ran for 126 yards but the Chiefs should have relied more heavily on the rushing attack.

Pinning nearly 40 pass attempts on a guy with as little experience as Palko seemed like a foolish thing to do, even if they were up against a weak pass defense. New England brought the pressure all game, sacking Palko three times, deflecting five passes and getting hits on Palko nine separate times. He was rattled and you could obviously tell the pressure was getting to his head.
At 4-6, the Chiefs are just two games behind the first place Raiders and Broncos in the AFC West division, and if head coach Todd Haley expects to make an attempt at the playoffs down the stretch, they will need to get more production out of the running game.

This will be tough to do without Pro Bowl back Jamaal Charles on the field (lost Charles to injury in Week 2), but giving play-maker Dexter McCluster more touches could quickly take the pressure off Palko.

Kansas City has a tough road ahead (PIT, CHI, NYJ, GB, OAK, DEN), in fact it appears they could have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, but this will give Palko much needed experience down the road.

Photo credit
Belichick: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Palko: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

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