The Patriots were down 23-7 in third quarter and their offense was scuffling, so the defense and special teams have made plays to close the gap with the Chiefs.
A Nick Folk field goal with 11:42 left to play cut the Kansas City lead to 23-16, but the Patriots surely feel they should have taken an even bigger bite out of the lead.
That score was set up by a fumble recovery by Stephon Gilmore on the final play of the third quarter, but it was delayed by a replay review. Safety Devin McCourty punched the ball out of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce‘s hands, but officials whistled the play dead as Gilmore picked it up and ran the other way. Bill Belichick challenged and New England got the ball as a clear recovery, but not a return that looked like a potential touchdown.
The special teams play came earlier in the third when Nate Ebner blocked a punt to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Brandon Bolden. At least one of the units will need to come up with another big play for the Patriots to pull off the comeback win.
Belichick is now out of challenges. After a Sammy Watkins catch was ruled a first down, Belichick challenged both the spot and for offensive pass interference. The call on the field was upheld, which left no way to challenge that rookie N'Keal Harry scored on a play when he was ruled out short of the end zone.