The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs played out the game of the season so far as a last-second field goal saw the Pats end the visitors’ unbeaten start in what was a record 200th regular season win for Tom Brady.
Five-time Super Bowl winner Brady had seen a 24-9 half-time lead evaporate as second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes led an astonishing second-half fight-back from the Chiefs to prove that he really could be the next big star of the NFL.
Old stager Brady has seen it all before of course, as his teams have had 96 half-time leads at home during his 17 years at Gillette Stadium and lost just once – to the Chiefs, ironically, in last season’s opening night.
The Patriots defence was dominant in the first half but could not stop big plays in the second as Kareem Hunt scored from 67 yards before Tyreek Hill bettered that with a 75-yard effort to tie the game up at 40-40, but it left Brady enough time for a trademark drive to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s winning kick.
The Chiefs entered the game with the worst defence in terms of yards allowed in the league but one of the best attacks, so it was always going to be a shootout once they fell behind – but the way they fought back will give coach Andy Reid great hope going forward.
Kansas City started the season 5-0 last year but stumbled to a 10-6 record and an early play-off exit. However, with Mahomes now at the helm and the big-play ability of Hunt and Hill to call upon, these two teams could well be seeing each other again in a big play-off contest in January.
Rams stay perfect as Ravens shut out Titans
The Los Angeles Rams are the last unbeaten team standing as they came away from a snowy Denver with a 23-20 victory to underline their Super Bowl credentials as running back Todd Gurley also underlined his MVP credentials with another monster effort.
Gurley ran for a career-best 208 yards and scored twice as the Rams moved to 6-0 while Denver suffered a fourth straight defeat as their season continues its downward slide.
The Rams’ neighbouring LA Chargers are also looking strong as they dominated the Cleveland Browns 38-14 with another solid all-round performance on both sides of the ball – capped off by star running back Melvin Gordon scoring three times.
Having only lost to the Rams and Chiefs this season, the Chargers are quickly developing from dark horses into genuine contenders given the strength of their winning run – they’re definitely ones to watch as they head to London to play the Tennessee Titans at Wembley next Sunday.
The Titans, however, have now suffered back-to-back defeats since beating Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles as they slumped to a 21-0 shutout loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Nashville.
The Ravens ended a tough three-game road trip with a team-record 11 sacks on quarterback Marcus Mariota in a dominant defensive display that puts them on 4-2 for the season and back in the play-off picture, especially with four of their next five coming at home.
The Atlanta Falcons ended their woeful run of three straight losses with a wild 34-29 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Pittsburgh Steelers edged out divisional rivals Cincinnati Bengals 28-21 with Antonio Brown’s touchdown in the final 10 seconds.
Jason Myers kicked a team-record seven field goals to help the New York Jets to a surprising 42-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts while Jason Sanders kicked a last-second field goal for the Miami Dolphins to see them beat the Chicago Bears in overtime.
What’s left to come?
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers (01:15 BST Tuesday)
The San Francisco 49ers are the kings of Monday Night Football but they’re without star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and top running back Jerrick McKinnon for the season while eight other starters are struggling with injuries.
The Niners have only made the play-offs three times in 15 years but love the Monday night spotlight having won nine in a row in the fixture and have an NFL-best 48 wins all time in this particular TV slot.
Green Bay’s star quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing through a host of injuries, with himself and his team having struggled to both score points and keep him on his feet – and that again will be the major factor on their success at Lambeau Field.
It will be San Francisco’s fourth away game of the season and they’ve already lost their first three while the Packers are unbeaten at home with two wins and a tie.
Stats of the week
Tom Brady secured his 200th regular season win – the most for a quarterback in NFL history.
Brady also made it 227 wins overall for his career, including play-offs, which gives him the overall career record as he passed former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.
Scoring is definitely up this season, the Patriots v Chiefs was the third game this season where both teams scored 40 points or more – there had only been two in the previous three years.
Jason Myers’ seven field goals was a New York Jets record, and his total of 24 points was the second most ever in a single game by a player who didn’t score a touchdown.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen continued his run of 100-yard games to become just the second player to do so in the first six games of the season.
Thielen’s 58 catches not only leads the NFL currently but is the most ever by a player in the opening six games of a season.
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Rams punter has got skills
Johnny Hekker is usually only seen booting the ball away for the LA Rams when their offence can’t get things going, but he showed he’s got the skills of Odell Beckham during the game in Denver.
As Broncos QB Case Keenum threw the ball away into touch, Hekker leapt up to snare a tremendous one-handed grab Beckham would have been proud of.
Get this guy on the field!
Thomas on tour at Gillette
Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas is reaping the rewards of his epic win, including getting sideline access to the game of the season at Gillette Stadium.
The Welshman was a guest of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and what a game to be at as he witnessed the best of what the NFL has to offer.
Rainn follows Seahawks to London
American actor Rainn Wilson, of American Office fame, is a huge Seattle Seahawks fan and he had no problem with making the long trip over to Wembley to watch his side take on the Oakland Raiders.
He certainly enjoyed his access-all-areas pass as he was in the team’s locker room after their emphatic victory and was also situated pitchside for the kick-off. Such are the trappings of fame!