The Patriots entered Thursday night’s game as overwhelming Super Bowl favorites. The Chiefs? Their 25-1 odds trailed quite a few teams.
Hunt gained 246 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns and Hill had 138 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown as the Chiefs gained 537 yards against a defense that ranked in the top 10 last season. It was the most yards a Bill Belichick defense ever has allowed.
The Chiefs had three drives of at least 90 yards after having only one last season.
But the game didn’t start that way.
The Patriots unfurled their fifth Super Bowl banner pregame and gave their fans even more reason to celebrate early in Thursday’s game.
Everyone counted out Kansas City when the Patriots scored on their first drive and the Chiefs fumbled on their first play. But Kansas City made a fourth-and-one stop, one of two in the game, and scored a touchdown before halftime to cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-14. The second half was all Chiefs as they outscored New England 28-10.
The only bad news for the Chiefs was safety Eric Berry leaving on a cart with an Achilles injury in the fourth quarter.
The only good news for the Patriots is they have been here before. They lost to the Chiefs 41-14 in 2014 as Smith completed 20 of 26 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns and Kansas City rolled to 443 total yards.
The Patriots rallied from a 2-2 start that season to finish 12-4 on their way to winning Super Bowl XLIX.
This is the beginning, not the end, with a long way still to go.
Here are five more things we learned during Thursday Night Football:
1. Patrick who? The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round, and Smith’s critics had him heading to the bench sooner than later. But Smith played one of the best games of his career Thursday night.
Smith completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 148.6 passer rating.
He has earned Pro Bowl honors only twice in his career, but played every bit like a perennial Pro Bowler on Thursday.
2. Hunt brings the Chiefs something they haven’t had since Jamaal Charles, whose last 1,000-yard season came in 2014. Hunt’s 246 yards from scrimmage were the most by any player in his debut since the 1970 merger.
Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
His great night didn’t start with great promise as he fumbled on his first carry. Hunt had only one fumble in 856 career offensive touches at Toledo, and that came in his freshman season.
But that was forgotten in a record night for the third-round pick, who took over after Spencer Ware was lost for the season with a knee injury.
3. The Patriots have had a top-10 defense the past two seasons, but they looked nothing close to that against the Chiefs. Hill had a 75-yard touchdown and Hunt a 78-yarder, the first time the Patriots have allowed two touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game since 1968.
The 42 points scored by the Chiefs was the most of the Belichick era, and the most points New England has allowed since the Jets scored 45 in 1993.
While the secondary surely lost confidence, linebacker Dont'a Hightower was lost to a knee injury. The extent of the injury isn’t known, but Hightower didn’t return to the game after being rolled by Chiefs center Mitch Morse.
The Patriots will have time to get it together, with 10 days until their next game. But the next game is against Drew Brees and the Saints.
4. Hill just might be the most exciting player in the NFL.
He now has scored a touchdown of 65 yards or longer in five consecutive regular-season games. Hill might have done even more damage than he did in catching seven passes for 133 yards and running for 5 yards on two carries, but he left with cramps in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.
5. Brady still is learning his receivers.
Brady lost his security blanket when Julian Edelman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the preseason. Edelman has averaged 89 catches for 957 yards and five touchdowns the past four seasons. Brady then lost Danny Amendola to a concussion during Thursday’s game after Amendola made six catches for 100 yards.
It was not one of Brady’s better nights as he completed only 16 of 36 passes for 267 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 70.0 passer rating.