Patriots' first-half offensive struggles continue in Week 14 loss to the Chiefs
New England needs to start games on a better note
FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- Hot starts haven't exactly been a pillar to the Patriots offense over the last couple of weeks and Sunday's loss to the Chiefs was the latest example of a potential Achilles heel for the defending champions as the calendar is now turned to December.
Outside of their opening score of the game (which was helped by a couple of third down penalties by Kansas City), the Patriots went seven offensive possessions without putting up points. In the second quarter alone, Kansas City's offense rattled off 17 points, digging the Pats in a hole that proved to be too much to overcome.
This is the second straight week that New England has gone into the locker room at halftime after scoring single digits. In all, they were outscored 34-10 by the Chiefs and Texans in the first half in Weeks 13 and 14. Because of that, it's no surprise they were 0-2 on those contests. A disjointed offense has been a theme for the Patriots for the bulk of the year, but the silver lining is the fact that they have been able to come out in the second half a more efficient unit, outscoring their previous two opponents 28-17.
"I mean, I think we're just trying to figure out what works," Brady said Sunday of the offense's change in the second half over the last two weeks. "So, I think you have an idea and then you see how the game unfolds and then you've got to make some adjustments. So, we tried to make some adjustments there in the second half. They threw a lot of different defenses at us, some we handled pretty good, others we didn't. It was a good game by them."
A lot of that improvement in offensive production can be credited to coaching, but also a bit to Brady doubling-down on his trusted go-to weapons in receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White, who combined for 198 total yards and a touchdown in Week 14. Last week against the Texans, they accounted for 276 total yards and three scores. They've even begun getting a bit more creative with their play-calling as White was involved on the flea flicker touchdown from Brady to Edelman in the first half and the running back threw a pass of his own for 35 yards to Jakobi Meyers in the fourth.
While the Patriots were able to gain some momentum off of those plays, it also felt like offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was reaching deep into his bag of tricks partly out of desperation to try and inject some life into the offense. That's not exactly the best reason for playing those cards at this point in the year and not a consistent formula for winning.
The good news for New England is that they've shown the ability to put up points. The bad news is that it's coming after an offensive slump to start games that put insurmountable hole against both Houston and Kansas City.
Bill Belichick constantly preaches playing a full 60 minute game. For the Patriots offense to have a chance to contend against the Ravens, Texans or Chiefs in the AFC playoffs, they'll have to buck this recent trend and start coming out gangbusters. if they don't, they'll likely suffer the same fate they have over these past two weeks come January.
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