Patriots’ home winning streak ends at 21 as rally falls short


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots had their 21-game home winning streak (including playoffs) snapped Sunday with a 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs as their late comeback bid fell short.

The loss, which included two questionable officiating calls that went against New England, drops the Patriots to 10-3.

The Ravens, who beat the Bills on Sunday to improve to 11-2, strengthened their hold on the AFC’s No. 1 seed with three games remaining in the regular season. The Ravens own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Patriots after beating them Nov. 3.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs improve to 9-4 and clinched the AFC West championship.

The Patriots were hurt by two officiating rulings, and coach Bill Belichick was furious on the sideline after the first — when Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was ruled down by contact late in the third quarter as the football came loose when he was tackled by safety Devin McCourty.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore recovered and had a chance for a significant return, possibly even a touchdown, had the play not been blown dead.

“You can only do your job and play the play out,” Gilmore said. “If they blow the whistle, you got to live with it. That’s the decision they have to make.”

Belichick fired his red challenge flag on the field, and the Patriots, trailing 23-13 at the time, took over at their own 43-yard line.

“Obviously we have to do some things better than we did them tonight. It wasn’t quite good enough. There were a lot of other circumstances in the game. There’s no point talking about those,” Belichick said, seemingly in reference to the officiating.

Asked if the officiating made it hard to get into a tempo or flow, Belichick said, “Yeah, I don’t know.”

The Patriots appeared to score a touchdown on their ensuing drive when, at the Chiefs’ 15, rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry took a short pass from quarterback Tom Brady and raced toward the pylon on the left side of the end zone.

Harry dove to the pylon but was ruled out at the 3-yard line. Replays showed Harry didn’t step out of bounds.

“We all knew it was a touchdown. Everyone clearly saw it was a touchdown, but it was out of our control,” Harry said.

The Patriots, who were out of challenges after Belichick had unsuccessfully challenged a spot and pass interference on a play earlier in the third quarter, ended up settling for a field goal.

“It sucks, because at the end of the day, we felt like those were plays that 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. You know, just make a better call and do this better. At the end of the day, we all have a job and we all get paid money to do the job and do it well.”

In a pool report, referee Jerome Boger explained the Harry call.

“The covering official on the wing was blocked out by defenders. The downfield official, who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play, had that he stepped out at the 3-yard line. So, they got together and conferred on that. The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the 3-yard line.”

Boger was asked if there was any consideration to rule it a touchdown, knowing they would have the benefit of instant replay to support or overturn the call because all scoring plays are reviewable.

“Not really. Those two officials who were covering it, they look at it in real time,” Boger said. “This case was unique in that the guy who would have ruled touchdown had him short. So maybe if that ruling official on the goal line had a touchdown, we could have gotten into that, but he thought that that guy stepped out of bounds.

The goal line wasn’t in the play.”

So the Patriots instead had first-and-goal from the 3, ultimately kicking the field goal to close the gap to 23-16.

“We still had a chance,” said Brady, who had a large wrap over his right throwing elbow after the game that he said wasn’t a big deal. “Wish we could have scored there.”

That the Patriots needed a comeback was a result of some poor play after they started fast, with a flea-flicker for a touchdown on their opening drive — Brady to receiver Julian Edelman for 37 yards.

But the Chiefs scored the next 20 points, taking a 20-7 lead into halftime, with the home crowd showering the Patriots with boos as they headed to the locker room.

“You hear cheers, you hear boos. That’s part of being in sports,” Brady said, adding that his reaction was “to go play better.”

Those boos later turned to chants of, “Brady! Brady! Brady!” as the Patriots mounted a spirited comeback.

On their final drive, there was another officiating call that generated discussion in the Patriots’ locker room after the game. On third-and-6 with 3:31 remaining, receiver Phillip Dorsett appeared to be interfered with on a deep pass, but there was no call.

“I was 99% confident that I was interfered with,” Dorsett said. “Obviously it gets frustrating, but calls get made and don’t get made. I know it is a tough job on the referees. It is what it is.”

But the Patriots converted a fourth-and-6 situation, with Brady rushing for 17 yards, before the drive stalled. The Chiefs’ defense stiffened in the red zone, and Brady’s fourth-down pass to Edelman for a possible game-tying touchdown was knocked away.

Belichick took a silver-lining type of view.

“I’m really proud of the way our team competed. Those guys went and battled for 60 minutes,” he said. “It wasn’t always perfect, there were certainly things we could have done better, but we were competitive right down to the final play and that’ll serve us well going forward.”

Source : ESPN