The game situation was totally different for Jimmy Garoppolo, of course, but it was impossible not to notice what happened at the end of Monday night's game.
Garoppolo, the Patriots' second-round pick this year, came in and gave a dead offense some life. He took a team that couldn't move the ball and immediately drove the Patriots for a touchdown.
And as that was happening it was impossible to also not think about Tom Brady in the past tense. To wonder if we're just never going to see one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history be great anymore. It was also worth wondering if the Patriots' incredible dynasty died at Arrowhead Stadium, too. That's how bad the 41-14 loss was. The Patriots have never looked this incompetent in the Belichick-Brady era.
Maybe the Patriots and Brady are fooling us and by the end of the year they'll wear the "AFC East Champions" hats with yet another double-digit win season and look back on this game at Kansas City and laugh. But the Patriots' embarrassment was so thorough and complete that you have to wonder if that team is ever coming back.
The Chiefs played a magnfiicent all-around game, and they deserve a lot of credit. But the Patriots looked terrible, too. The Patriots were outgained 303-96 in the first half. The defense was awful, as bad as a Bill Belichick defense has ever looked. But the defense has played well at times this year. Brady hasn't.
Before we get to Brady's excuses, let's review some facts. Brady is completing just 59 percent of his passes. He has 791 yards in four games. He has just four touchdowns. His yards per attempt is among the lowest in the league. Against the Chiefs he had 159 yards and two interceptions. Belichick merficully pulled Brady after his second interception, which was returned for a touchdown to put Kansas City ahead 41-7. Brady and Belichick have never trailed by that many points in a game during their all-time great run with the Patriots. It was sad to watch Brady, who is arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, take a seat on the bench after being so poor on Monday night.
Brady has some reasons for his struggles. The offensive line is not playing well at all. Brady was blindsided on a play by Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali and lost a fumble, and left tackle Nate Solder barely touched Hali as he flew by. That's not Brady's fault. It's also not completely Brady's fault that his receivers weren't getting much separation, and that Rob Gronkowski still doesn't look like the dominant force he was before a bunch of injuries. But Brady is 37, showed signs of slipping last year (it makes the MVP talk near the end of last season look really foolish), and you have to wonder if the best of Brady is well behind him now. It certainly looked that way on Monday night.
The Patriots are 2-2 and certainly have the ability to make another run, although nobody has been impressed by them yet this season. It's a team that lost in the AFC championship game last year, then made a lot of roster improvements through getting injured players back and adding cornerback Darrelle Revis. They should be very good, as usual. But the team that was blown out by the Chiefs doesn't resemble a contender at all.
As you watched the Chiefs do whatever they wanted on Monday night, and Brady look as helpless as he has ever looked on an NFL field, you couldn't help but wonder if you were witnessing the end of one of the NFL's greatest runs.
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