FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There were big plays all over the field. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were making them.
Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and rookie Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times to help Kansas City stun New England 42-27 on Thursday night in the season opener.
Coming off their sensational Super Bowl rally to a fifth Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots faded badly in the second half. A raucous sold-out crowd of 65,878 celebrated the unveiling of yet another championship banner, and there was plenty of talk about Tom Brady leading them to a 19-0 record.
After Week 1, though, they are winless.
It was the first time the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime, a span of 82 games. They were no match for the Chiefs in the last two periods.
Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yarder and Hunt put the Chiefs in front with a 78-yarder to punctuate Kansas City’s charge after trailing 17-14 at halftime. Hunt also had a 58-yard scamper and finished with 141 yards rushing and 98 receiving. Hill had 133 yards through the air, and Smith went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, didn’t look too spry. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn’t throw for a touchdown, finishing 16 for 36 for 267 yards.
Patriots newcomer Mike Gillislee scored on three short runs, becoming the first player since Terrell Owens of Philadelphia in 2004 to score three touchdowns in his debut with a new team.
And Kansas City aided the Patriots’ cause with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Yet, in the end, the Chiefs looked like world-beaters.
New England failed twice in the first quarter on short-yardage runs, by Gillislee and Super Bowl hero James White, and again in the fourth period, by Gillislee. If anyone proclaimed the Patriots were missing RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 TDs last season and was a beast in such situations, well, Gillislee, who came from Buffalo as a restricted free agent, ran in for a pair of 2-yard touchdowns and a 1-yarder.
Not only did the crowd revel in the video highlights from the Super Bowl, the fans booed vigorously when Commissioner Roger Goodell was shown talking on the sideline Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during warmups. A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell’s face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature. Goodell watched the game from a suite, but not with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Kansas City’s star safety Eric Berry was carted off with 4:56 remaining with an undisclosed injury.
The Patriots lost perhaps their best defensive player, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, in the third quarter with a knee injury. His absence showed on Hunt’s long TD reception. ... WR Danny Amendola left in the fourth quarter with a head injury. He’s projected as New England’s slot receiver with Julian Edelman out for the season.
Chiefs: Host Philadelphia on Sept. 17.
Patriots: Visit New Orleans on Sept. 17.