The New England Patriots began their title defense on a low note Thursday night, falling to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-27 at home.
After celebrating their awe-inspiring comeback victory in last year’s Super Bowl by unveiling a fifth banner at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots failed to recapture that magic in their first outing of the season. The team struggled to find consistency on offense and were unable to slow down the Chiefs’ offensive attack.
It was the first time New England lost a season opener following a championship, having previously gone 4-0 on banner nights.
Reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady had a mediocre first outing, completing just 16 of 36 passes for 267 yards and no touchdowns. Meanwhile, his Kansas City counterpart Alex Smith looked sharp, going 28-for-35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
One bright spot for New England was newly acquired RB Mike Gillislee, who had a career-high three touchdowns in his Patriots debut. Gillislee also added 45 yards on the ground on 15 carries.
Chiefs rookie RB Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first career carry but the Patriots were unable to capitalize on the turnover. A touchdown catch from TE Rob Gronkowski would’ve put the Patriots in the driver’s seat with a double-digit lead, but the play was called back and the Chiefs ended up regaining control of the ball.
Despite the early hiccup, Hunt would ultimately recover, racking up 148 yards and a touchdown on the ground and another 98 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
The Patriots went into the second half with a 17-14 lead, but a 75-yard touchdown grab from Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill quickly shifted control. Gillislee’s third touchdown and a second Gostkowski field goal put the Patriots ahead 27-21 in the third quarter, but it was all downhill from there for the Patriots.
In the final quarter, Hunt reeled in a 78-yard touchdown pass and followed it up with a 4-yard score before fellow RB Charcandrick West topped it off with a 21-yard touchdown run.
The Patriots lost a player to injury on both sides of the ball during the game. LB Dont’a Hightower left with a knee injury in the third quarter while WR Danny Amendola, after reeling in six catches for 100 yards, suffered an apparent head injury. Neither player returned to the field of play.
Kansas City safety Eric Berry was carted off the field late in the game with a potential torn Achilles tendon, according to NFL.com.
The Patriots were 9-point favorites in the game and are the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl again.