Bedard: Officiating was terrible, but shoddy Patriots offense in first half set the stage for another defeat

FOXBOROUGH — It's easy to blame the officiating when things don't go right for your team. Sometimes that's legitimate, sometimes it's sour grapes.

When it came to the Patriots' 23-16 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday night, of course, New England has a gripe. Or several. In key spots, too. But Kansas City, which was flagged five times for 81 yards more than New England, had some serious blown calls as well, including the non-call on Julian Edelman's block in the back during N'Keal Harry's much-disputed non-touchdown.

But the bottom line on Sunday night was that shoddy offensive execution — no, actually, make that terrible execution — again sunk the Patriots for the third time in five games. Certainly going backward 8 yards in three plays after the Harry play was awful. So was having a first down at the Chiefs 12-yard line after the non-pass interference call on the pass to Phillip Dorsett and not cashing in.

In the fourth quarter alone, the Patriots had four plays from the KC 5-yard line and in, and went minus-2, incomplete, minus-6 and incomplete. You're not winning any games in the NFL like that, bad calls or not.

But what really torpedoed the Patriots were the final four possessions before halftime. If the Patriots did anything on those drives, they wouldn't have needed competent refs in the end. They would have won, as they've done in the past, with referee Jerome Boger still being his absolute worst.

Instead, the Patriots continued to look like an offense that has never practiced together. The lack of execution is astonishing, and it involved everyone.

Before we get to those plays,