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Snap Judgments: Chiefs can’t stop Rob Gronkowski, Pats can stop Tyler Palko

11.21.11 at 11:37 pm ET

FOXBORO — Though it took some time before the rout was on, the Patriots overcame a bit of early scoreboard confusion and dropped the Chiefs, 34-3, Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

Led by Tyler Palko, who was making his first career start, the Chiefs jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Pats hit their offensive stride and got a big night out of Rob Gronkowski, who had two touchdowns in the win. The Pats both intercepted and sacked Palko three times, while Tom Brady completed 15-of-27 passes for 234 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The 7-3 Pats will head to Philadelphia next week to face the Eagles.


– Gronkowski had his fourth two-touchdown game this season, and the sixth of his career. Brady found the second-year tight end wide open over the middle in the second quarter, hitting Gronkowski for a 52-yard touchdown, the longest of No. 87’s career. The play was reviewed to determine whether he stayed in bounds when he made Kendrick Lewis miss along the sideline, and was confirmed upon the review.

Early in the third quarter, Brady hit Gronkowski behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-2 for a 19-yard touchdown. Gronkowski now has 20 career touchdowns after racking up 10 as a rookie. The second-year player is just the sixth tight end in NFL history with 10 or more touchdowns in two seasons.

– What didn’t Julian Edelman do Monday night? With the Pats thin on defense, the quarterback-turned-receiver saw time as both a defensive back and even linebacker. He drew a holding penalty on Chiefs tight end Leonard Pope in the second quarter, and on the following play recorded a tackle.

The highlight of Edelman’s night came when he shifted his way to a 72-yard punt return in the third quarter. It was his second career punt return touchdown, and he joined Troy Brown (three), Irving Fryar (three) and Mike Haynes (two) as the only Patriots to return multiple punts for touchdowns.

– Sure, the Pats probably weren’t expecting to allow the first points of the game, but give their red zone defense credit for tightening up when the Chiefs were on the doorstep in the first quarter. After Thomas Jones bounced it to the outside for a 26-yard scamper to set the Chiefs up for a first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, the Pats took advantage of an illegal shift penalty and stopped the Chiefs’ rushing bids to set up a 26-yard field goal from Ryan Succop. The first-quarter field goal provided the only three points the Chiefs would get on the night.

– Though he didn’t throw for a ton of yards on the night, Brady did pass Boomer Esiason for 15th on the all-time passing yards list.

Kyle Arrington added two more interceptions to his total, and now leads the league with seven picks on the season. Both of his interceptions came off tipped balls. He was beaten in the second quarter by Steve Breaston for a 19-yard Chiefs completion, but on the following play, Rob Ninkovich hit Palko as he was throwing, and the result was a semi-catchable ball that Breaston essentially tipped into the hands of Arrington. The cornerback picked up his seventh pick when he secured a ball off the hands of Jonathan Baldwin. Arrington’s seven interceptions are two more than any other player in the league.

There was an injury scare for the corner, as Arrington remained down in the fourth quarter following a 25-yard reception by Dwayne Bowe in which Arrington tackled the Kansas City receiver. Luckily for the Pats, he was back in the game in short order. With Devin McCourty inactive due to a shoulder injury he suffered last week, the Pats can ill-afford more injuries in their secondary.

– Arrington wasn’t the only one to pick off Palko, who was making his first career start. Palko showed his inexperience when he threw into triple coverage looking for Breaston in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Phillip Adams came up with the easy interception, the first of his career.

– Cancer survivor Marcus Cannon was active for the first time as a member of the Patriots, and he got into the game late in the fourth quarter. Cannon was one of the top guard prospects in the draft, but fell to the fifth round after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma during the combine. It was certainly a feel-good moment for the rookie lineman and the Patriots.


Wes Welker, who entered the night leading the NFL in both receptions (72) and receiving yards (1,006), was not targeted once in the first half. Aside from an eight-yard completion to Deion Branch in the second quarter, Brady’s focus was almost exclusively on the tight ends early on, and he found success in connecting with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Welker was targeted more in the second half, and had a pair of fourth-quarter receptions.

Sebastian Vollmer was little more than a miniature traffic cone for Tamba Hali. He barely deterred the pass-rushing Penn State product on his second-quarter sack of Brady, which brought the Pats back to their own 6-yard line and forced them to punt on fourth-and-21. There were more instances in which Vollmer was beaten with ease, but none as glaring as Hali’s sack.

– Speaking of sacks, the Patriots allowed more than they would have liked. The Chiefs entered the game with just nine sacks on the season, but they were able to pick up three on the night. In addition to Hali’s second-quarter sack, both Amon Gordon and Wallace Gilberry were able to get to Brady behind the line of scrimmage. Brady fumbled on Gilberry’s sack, with Allen Bailey recovering at the Kansas City 27 in the second quarter. The play was the Pats’ lone turnover of the night.

Read More: Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Tyler Palko



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