FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Something was missing from Kansas City’s defensive performance Saturday in the Chiefs’ 27-20, season-ending loss to the New England Patriots, and that something wasn’t difficult to identify.
Over the course of the season, the Chiefs forced 26 interceptions and recovered eight fumbles. Of those picks, 22 interceptions came during the regular season. That mark was second in the league, two shy of the Carolina Panthers’ 24.
Kansas City’s four postseason interceptions lead the league by a long shot, as four teams (Cincinnati, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Houston) have one interception apiece thus far.
But those four postseason interceptions all came against Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans a week ago.
The Chiefs didn’t force single turnover against the Patriots.
“I think you’re used to seeing the defense dominate and their offense came in and played well,” linebacker Dee Ford said. “We matched up well against this team.
“That’s what people are used to seeing. They’re used to seeing us dominate — five interceptions, three turnovers. We had unreal type of numbers and (the Patriots) came in, they took care of the ball and they executed.”
Getting to New England quarterback Tom Brady to potentially force an error was difficult, as the New England offensive line was as sturdy as a brick wall for most of the game.
“Those guys could block,” linebacker Tamba Hali said of the Patriots’ tackles. “But I believe in our guys that we can rush. When the ball is coming out in one or two seconds there’s not much you can do, but I believe if we did jam them the whole game that we would have had the success that we had towards the end of the game.”
Brady’s speed and efficiency didn’t help the Chiefs in their quest for turnovers.
“He got the ball out quick,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “When we took away his first look, (but) he did a pretty good and got the ball out fast. He always has an answer, so he did a great job. I mean, he’s a smart quarterback, and you can’t beat yourself up too much. We definitely left some plays there on the field.”
Some of those plays were close, but close didn’t quite cut it.
Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters extended a hand for what would have been an interception, but he couldn’t haul it in. Cornerback Sean Smith also came close to picking Brady off but ended up short. Even linebacker Hali happened to be at the right place at the right time but couldn’t get his hands on the ball.
“We just got out of character,” safety Husain Abdullah said. “On our end of the ball, we got out of character.”