Running back Jerick McKinnon threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Patrick Mahomes passed for 305 yards and two scores to help Kansas City beat the New England Patriots 27-17 on Sunday in front of Chiefs superfan Taylor Swift.
With the pop star — and a whole bunch of Swifties — in the crowd, the defending Super Bowl champions snapped a two-game losing streak and maintained control of the AFC West race. Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, who is in a relationship with Swift, caught five passes for 28 yards, but also had a potential touchdown bounce off his hands.
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Bailey Zappe, making his third straight start in place of benched first-round draft pick Mac Jones, completed 23 of 31 passes for 180 yards for the Patriots. New England (3-11) lost for the sixth time in seven games and remains in contention for one of the top two picks in next year’s NFL draft.
In what could be the penultimate home game of coach Bill Belichick’s tenure, the six-time Super Bowl champions took a 10-7 lead before allowing 20 straight points.
Flexed out of “Monday Night Football” because of their ineptitude — an NFL first — the Patriots seemed to have third billing on the day, behind Swift and her beau’s team, which has won two of the past four NFL titles and has all of the star power New England once claimed.
Fans filed in carrying posters shouting out to Swift; others lined up along the ramps and walkways hoping she would pass by on her way to the luxury boxes. Kelce himself walked past a Swift banner that was hanging under the seats commemorating top acts that have come to Gillette Stadium.
Swift, who is on a break from her Eras Tour, was shown on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, wearing a Chiefs knit cap and sweatshirt. The crowd shrieked; she stuck out her tongue playfully, waved and blew the fans a kiss.
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The Chiefs (9-5) improved to 5-2 with Swift in attendance. The best the Patriots could offer was Belichick friend Jon Bon Jovi, who rang the lighthouse bell before the game and was greeted with tepid applause when he was shown on the scoreboard during the game.
Harrison Butker missed a 39-yard field goal on Kansas City’s opening drive, snapping a string of 61 straight made kicks that was one short of his own franchise record. New England’s Chad Ryland matched him, missing from 41 yards out on his first try.
On the next play, Mahomes connected with Clyde Edwards-Helaire for 48 yards to the New England 15. Two plays later, McKinnon took a direct snap and flipped it to Rashee Rice for the 4-yard touchdown pass.
Zappe completed a 16-yard touchdown to Hunter Henry, and New England capitalized on Mahomes’ first interception for a field goal that made it 10-7 lead late in the second quarter. Mahomes hit McKinnon from 8 yards to give Kansas City the lead and converted from 29 yards to make it 17-10.
On the Patriots’ next play, Willie Gay intercepted Zappe and ran it back 24 yards to the New England 7. Two plays later, Mahomes lofted one to Edwards-Helaire in the back of the end zone to give the Chiefs a 24-10 lead.
Kansas City led 27-10 when Mahomes’ pass bounced off Kadarius Toney’s hands and was intercepted by Jahlani Tavai. Two plays later, Kevin Harris scampered 18 yards for the touchdown.
After the Chiefs were stopped, Ekow Boye-Doe downed Tommy Townsend’s punt at the 1 inch-line. The Patriots could not make any progress, turning the ball over on downs at their 7 after Zappe’s pass was incomplete on a fourth-and-4.
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Patriots OL Cole Strange injured his knee early in the second quarter and was taken off on a cart. He was ruled out a few minutes later. … DB Jonathan Jones was announced with a knee injury at halftime. … OL Conor McDermott left the game with a head injury. … TE Hunter Henry left the game in the second half with a knee injury.
Chiefs: Host the Raiders on Christmas Day.
Patriots: Play Broncos in Denver on Sunday night.