Patriots

Bedard’s Breakdown: How did the Patriots corral Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, and can it be repeated?

[get_snippet] [theme-my-login show_title=0]
(Getty Images)

If the Patriots got adequate quarterback play against the Chiefs — and, really, if Brian Hoyer didn't just lose his head on three plays (the two sacks and the interception) — we might be talking about one of the greatest regular-season victories ever for a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team.

It was right there for the taking, if Hoyer didn't completely forget he was playing in an NFL game.

If the Patriots did pull off the victory, it would have been because of the defense. Rarely has Patrick Mahomes and his arsenal of weapons been so frustrated in a game.

Some of it was definitely the situation around the game itself. Having a postponement when you're keyed up to go on Sunday, and then not really knowing you were going to play the game even on the day of the game, is just a totally different experience for all the players involved. So there was definitely a Thursday Night Football vibe to this Monday Night affair. The play was not sharp on either side of the ball.

There could also be another small factor in all this: Mahomes could also be dealing with something that's affecting his deep passing. There were a few passes — a crosser to Travis Kelce, the passes that were nearly intercepted by Devin McCourty and J.C. Jackson — where the ball did not come off Mahomes' hand like we're accustomed to seeing. He threw a few wounded ducks, and that's not like him.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, here are Mahomes' deep passing numbers last year and through four games:

2019: 32 of 63 (50.8 percent), 1,141 yards (18.1 per attempt), 13 TDs, 2 INT, 122.9 passer rating.

2020: 3 of 14 (21.4 percent), 123 yards (8.8 per attempt), 3 TDs, 0 INT, 103.3 passer rating.

This season, Mahomes hasn't completed one deep ball to the left or middle of the field — all three have come to the right.

Last season, Mahomes was just as deadly to all three deep parts of the field.

If there was something wrong with your right shoulder, you would be less comfortable throwing to the middle and left than you are throwing to the right.

But this, admittedly, is a small sample size and the Chiefs have gone against four teams (Texans, Chargers, Ravens and Patriots) who traditionally have strong defenses. Perhaps this is just Mahomes and the Chiefs dealing with defenses that have spent the offseason thinking up new plans to defend them, and Andy Reid hasn't yet found a consistent way to attack them. But Mahomes did look a bit off on Monday night. Maybe that was just the circumstances.

Or maybe it was the Patriots, because they had a great plan that probably would have slowed down Mahomes even on his best night.

How did they do it?