Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — This was a surprise look, even for the always unpredictable Patrick Mahomes.

The quarterback with a highlight reel full of left-handed throws, contortionist arm angles and no-look passes got down in a three-point stance in the single wing formation on Sunday to served as a decoy for running back Jerick McKinnon’s touchdown pass.

“That was sweet,” said Mahomes, who guessed that hadn’t lined up with his hand on the turf since running the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine before he was drafted seven years ago. “That play was awesome. That’s a hard team to score on in the red zone. One of the best.”

Mahomes passed for 305 yards and threw two TD passes of his own to help the defending Super Bowl champions snap a two-game losing streak, thrilling Chiefs superfan Taylor Swift and all the Swifties in New England with a 27-17 victory.

With the pop star in a luxury suite watching current beau Travis Kelce — and a whole bunch of her fans at the stadium just to see her — the Kansas City tight end caught five passes for 28 yards, but also had a potential touchdown bounce off his hands.

McKinnon also ran for a touchdown and Rashee Rice caught nine passes for 91 yards and one touchdown. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a season-high 101 yards from scrimmage and leaped in the back of the end zone to bring down a high Mahomes TD pass as the Chiefs (9-5) opened a two-game lead in the AFC West over the Broncos, who lost on Saturday to Detroit.

“When you’re as close as the AFC is right now, wins are hard to get. And they’re important,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, noting that New England (3-11) has lost seven games by one score. “This Patriots team is so close. They’re doing a nice job with their defense. They’re salty.”

Bailey Zappe, making his third straight start in place of benched first-round draft pick Mac Jones, completed 23 of 31 passes for 180 yards for the Patriots. New England (3-11) lost for the sixth time in seven games and — with Carolina’s victory — moved just one game back in the race for the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Flexed out of “Monday Night Football” because of their ineptitude — an NFL first — the Patriots seemed to have third billing on the day, behind Swift and her beau’s team, which has won two of the past four NFL titles and has all of the star power New England once claimed.

In what could be the penultimate home game of coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, the six-time Super Bowl champions took a 10-7 lead before allowing 20 straight points.

“It’s wild to even think about. But I’ve got a feeling that guy still has some football left in him,” Kelce said. I’ve got all the respect in the world for that guy. Every single time I go up against him, it’s the toughest job in the NFL, to go up against a Belichick defense.”

Fans filed in carrying signs shouting out to Swift; others lined up along the ramps and walkways hoping she would pass by on her way to the luxury boxes. Kelce himself walked past a Swift poster commemorating top acts that have come to Gillette Stadium.

Swift, who is on a break from her Eras Tour, was shown on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, wearing a Chiefs knit cap and sweatshirt. The crowd shrieked; she stuck out her tongue playfully, waved and blew the fans a kiss.

The Chiefs (9-5) improved to 5-2 with Swift in attendance. The best the Patriots could offer was Belichick friend Jon Bon Jovi, who rang the lighthouse bell before the game and was greeted with tepid applause when he was shown on the scoreboard during the game.

Harrison Butker missed a 39-yard field goal on Kansas City’s opening drive, snapping a string of 61 straight made kicks that was one short of his own franchise record. New England’s Chad Ryland matched him, missing from 41 yards out on his first try.

On the next play, Mahomes connected with Edwards-Helaire for 48 yards to the New England 15. Two plays later, McKinnon took a direct snap and flipped it to Rashee Rice for the 4-yard touchdown pass.

Zappe completed a 16-yard touchdown to Hunter Henry, and New England capitalized on Mahomes’ first interception for a field goal that made it 10-7 lead late in the second quarter. Mahomes hit McKinnon from 8 yards to give Kansas City the lead and converted from 29 yards to make it 17-10.

On the Patriots’ next play, Willie Gay intercepted Zappe and ran it back 24 yards to the New England 7. Two plays later, Mahomes lofted one to Edwards-Helaire in the back of the end zone to give the Chiefs a 24-10 lead.

Kansas City led 27-10 when Mahomes’ pass bounced off Kadarius Toney’s hands and was intercepted by Jahlani Tavai. Two plays later, Kevin Harris scampered 18 yards for the touchdown.

After the Chiefs were stopped, Ekow Boye-Doe downed Tommy Townsend’s punt at the 1 inch-line. The Patriots could not make any progress, turning the ball over on downs at their 7 after Zappe’s pass was incomplete on a fourth-and-4.

“That was pretty amazing. That was close,” Reid said. “I’ve never been that fast, but I know it’s tough to control.”

INJURIES

Chiefs WR Skyy Moore came out of the game with a swollen left knee. … Patriots OL Cole Strange injured his knee early in the second quarter and was taken off on a cart. He was ruled out a few minutes later. … DB Jonathan Jones was announced with a knee injury at halftime. … OL Conor McDermott left the game with a head injury. … TE Hunter Henry left the game in the second half with a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Chiefs: Host the Raiders on Christmas Day.

Patriots: Play Broncos in Denver on Sunday night.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

(Copyright (c) 2023 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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