FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick never has much to say after a game, win or lose.

But in eight words he perfectly summed up the New England Patriots’ 42-27 season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium: “Bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad football.”

There wasn’t much to like about the Patriots’ effort. Oh, there were moments of brilliance, as there always are with this team. But they’re all going to be brushed aside for the next 10 days or so, or until the Patriots get back on the field against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 17.

There is going to be a rush to over-react to the result. After all, the Patriots gave up more yards to the Chiefs (537) and more points than in any game during the Belichick era in Foxborough.

Tom Brady completed fewer than half his passes (16 of 36). Rob Gronkowski caught only two passes, Chris Hogan one.

The defense gave up touchdown passes of 75 and 78 yards. Kansas City averaged 6.9 yards per rush. The Patriots were stuffed twice on 4th-and-inches situations.


We could go on, find more stats that quantify the loss.

We could look for reason upon reason why Kansas City looked so explosive against a Patriots defense that was supposed to be faster and better than last year, why a secondary presumed to be one of the best in the NFL gave up 368 passing yards and four touchdown passes to Alex Smith.

But one reason stands out: the Patriots simply weren’t ready to play.

Yes, that’s unheard of in these parts, especially on a night when the team was celebrating not only last year’s Super Bowl victory – unveiling the Super Bowl LI banner – but its Super Bowl championship legacy.

But when the face of your franchise, the greatest quarterback of this generation (or maybe any), says, “We just have to be a lot better in a lot of areas, starting with our attitude and our competitiveness,” well, that stands out.

Maybe the Patriots thought this was going to be easy. It surely looked that way when they scored on their opening drive and appeared to score again minutes later only to have Gronkowski’s diving catch ruled incomplete upon review.


But when the Chiefs punched them in the face on that first 4th-and-inches situation minutes later and then drove 90 yards to tie the game, everything changed. The Chiefs became the aggressor, the Patriots trying to react.

Brady isn’t used to that. So when he says something about the team’s attitude, people tend to listen.

“I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better,” he said when asked to clarify his earlier statement. “That is a winning attitude and a championship attitude that you need to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field. It’s a terrible feeling, and the only people that can do something about it are in that locker room.

“We’ve got to dig a lot deeper than we did tonight because we didn’t dig very deep tonight.”

Maybe, suggested offensive tackle Nate Solder, that’s something this team has to learn.

“I don’t think the average person truly knows how difficult it is to win a game and maybe this team doesn’t know that,” he said. “We’ve got to give everything we’ve got to win a game.”


Of course, this is a team missing a very integral part of its offense. Wide receiver Julian Edelman is the guy who made the tough catches and picked up the clutch first downs in a starring role over the past four years. Now he’s done for the season, thanks to a knee injury suffered in the third preseason game.

But this team has always been about more than any one player. Next man up, right? They lose a star and they find a way to replace him. It’s not going to be easy. But then, when is it ever easy with this team?

Over the next 10 days, the Patriots are going to have to find the resolve, the resilience, that has trademarked every one of their championship seasons.

It’s interesting to note that the Patriots have lost the opening game in three previous seasons during the Belichick-Brady era. Each time – 2001 (23-17 at Cincinnati, when Drew Bledsoe started the opener), 2004 (31-0 at Buffalo) and 2014 (23-20 at Miami) – the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.

Based on last night, they’ll be content taking baby steps and winning the next game.

“There’s a lot of things we need to work on,” said Belichick. “It’s a pretty lengthy list.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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