The Chiefs and Patriots never have met in the playoffs. But they had a high-profile get-together in 2014, one that entailed a blowout win for Kansas City, an “on to Cincinnati” mantra for New England coach Bill Belichick, and a turnaround that carried the team on the wrong side of a 41-14 final score to a Super Bowl win.
Understandably, the head coaches of both teams were asked about that last meeting on Sunday, during separate press conferences. Even more understandably, they both largely downplayed it.
“That was then and this is now and so you prepare yourself,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters. “We’ve got guys playing now that were watching that on TV. So you prepare yourself to go play against a good football team. And the team that’s there, well we’re in ’16 now, so the team that’s there in ’16, so not the team that was back there.”
Asked how his team managed to shut down Tom Brady in the Monday Night Football win that sparked questions as to whether Brady had lost his magic, Reid opted not to share secrets.
“I’m not even going to get into all of that, we’ve just got to play a good football game against them,” Reid said.
Belichick similarly didn’t have much to say about the last meeting.
“There has been whatever 25 games played since then, and it’s definitely a game to look at, but there are a couple thousand plays on either side of the ball [since then],” Belichick said. “I think you look at it, there are things we can take from it, there are some things that I’d say are somewhat outdated just based on the players and personnel, the situation and that kind of thing. So, it has relevance, but we’re certainly going to have to prepare and coach the team a lot better than we did that night, so that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Belichick admitted the obvious about the last meeting: “It was a pretty dominant performance by Kansas City, so I’m sure that there are things from that game that they may try do or that they may feel like they can still do or want to do that they did in that game.”
And while Belichick added that he’ll take those things into consideration, he pointed to changes like the addition of receiver Jeremy Maclin, whose status is in doubt due to an ankle injury suffered against the Texans.
“Obviously Andy had him in Philadelphia and probably knows him better than anybody — knows how to use him, knows the things he’s good at,” Belichick said. “He’s been very productive for them, gets the ball to him. Maclin is very good after the catch. He’s hard to bring down. He’s an excellent runner with speed and elusiveness and he has good playing strength, so he’s challenging to cover and he’s challenging to tackle, whether it’s kind of conventional run after catch plays or whether it’s some element of a protective play — slip screens and things like that — speed sweeps or reverses or other ways they get the ball to him. He’s been productive and he’s got a lot of good skills and Andy does an excellent job of getting him the ball.”
It sounds like Belichick, whose team was on a bye last week, has taken full advantage of his head start to prepare for the Chiefs, even though he didn’t know whether he’d face the Bengals, Chiefs, or Texans before Saturday. Of the three options, the Chiefs are the team that gave Belichick the hardest time in their last meeting, so it made plenty of sense for Belichick to focus on getting ready to face Kansas City and Andy Reid again.
Before that game, Belichick had never lost to Reid before last year, running up a 4-0 record against his Eagles. They’ve met once before in the postseason, in a three-point win that gave Belichick his third Super Bowl ring.
To get a fifth, he’ll have to get past the team and the coach that, in a roundabout way, helped them get their fourth.