Coach Andy Reid took no issue with players pushing and jawing in Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs game.
“It’s an emotional game and sometimes we forget about that,” Reid said after his team’s 23-16 win. “That’s what it’s all about. They are young guys, so us old people, who don’t have any hair, we can sit and critique that however we want to critique it, but these are young guys who are getting after it.”
Reid called the victory a “knock-down, drag-out” game, one that featured some heated moments. Late in the second quarter, after Kansas City forced the Patriots to punt, Tom Brady came helmet-to-helmet with Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones. The two exchanged pleasantries before jogging off to their respective sidelines. Jones, who sacked Brady earlier in the quarter for a loss of 10 yards, said the interaction was “just crap-talking.”
“Tom is a heck of a quarterback, a Hall of Famer,” Jones said. “Any time you’re able to talk crap, you gotta affect him any type of way. I got much respect for Tom Brady, man. He’s definitely a GOAT in my eyes, one of the greatest. Any time you’re able to affect his game any type of way, whether it’s talking, whether it’s hitting him, whether it’s getting him uncomfortable, you got to.”
Later in the second half, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins also got into it. Well after the play had been whistled dead, the pair continued to tussle outside the sidelines and had to be separated. Watkins, who lay on top of Gilmore as he continued to bark at his former teammate, chalked up the scrap to just being in the “heat of the moment.”
“You got two good players going up against each other,” said Watkins, who finished with four receptions for 50 yards. “I know him from Buffalo, so I was like, ‘This is my opportunity to take a shot,’ And I did. He took his shots also.”
Gilmore didn’t think much of the scuffle.
“In between those lines, it’s just two good players competing against each other,” he said.
“It’s always going to be chippy this time of the year,” added safety Devin McCourty. “All these games are so important. We’ve always got to do a good job of protecting each other, not getting penalties but making sure we protect each other and we don’t let anybody push us around.”
The tension heightened in the second half, when officials negated two scoring opportunities for the Patriots. Late in the third quarter, D. McCourty knocked the ball loose from Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Gilmore scooped the ball up and headed toward the end zone, but officials deemed Kelce was down by contact. After the Patriots challenged the call, officials ruled Kelce had fumbled.
On New England’s next drive, N’Keal Harry caught a short pass from Brady, threaded his way up the sideline, and dove over the pylon to reach the end zone. But officials incorrectly ruled Harry stepped out of bounds at the three-yard line. The Patriots ultimately settled for a 29-yard field goal.
“It sucks because at the end of the day, we felt like those were plays were going to change the momentum of the game and eventually put us in a spot to win the football game,” said safety Duron Harmon. “It was taken away from us. I know the referees have a rough job. I’m not going to say that their job is easy.”
“It was tough,” added receiver Phillip Dorsett. “Obviously with instant replay, you get to see everything. I can’t sit there and judge the referees because at the end of the day they are reacting off of what they are seeing in real-time. They miss calls and they make calls.”
While the Patriots certainly expressed frustration, they emphasized they simply need to play better, too. New England, trailing by seven, still had a chance to at least tie the game with the ball at Kansas City’s five-yard line and 66 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Brady’s pass to Edelman, however, fell incomplete in the end zone on 4th-and-3.
“The plan is always to try and score,” Dorsett said. “At the end of the day we didn’t, so that’s why you can’t say it was the referees that blew the game. Because we still had a chance to score and we didn’t.”