Kansas City’s Pro Bowl safety, Eric Berry went down in the fourth quarter of last night’s stunning 42-27 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots with what the Chiefs were calling a potentially torn Achilles tendon.
“I don’t think it’s positive [news],” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said last night. “We’ll see what the MRI shows.”
The results of that MRI arrived earlier today, and it has been confirmed that Eric Berry is done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Eric Berry’s loss will be devastating for the Chiefs as Andy Reid confirmed earlier in the day.
“You’re not gonna replace Eric Berry with another Eric Berry,” Reid told reporters today. “That’s not what happens. But we’ve obviously got some guys here between Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen that we know can play and we feel very comfortable with.”
Giving Kansas City even more reason to still feel comfortable was the play of their offense last night. If their performance is any indicator, the league will have its hands full with them this year.
In a game that started out looking like it was going to be an extension of the Super Bowl, with Tom Brady picking apart another defense en route to a quick 7-0 first quarter lead, the Chiefs weathered the storm and rallied to stun the Gillette Stadium crowd of 65,878 there to celebrate an the unveiling of the organization’s fifth Super Bowl banner. Instead, the Chiefs handed the Patriots their first ever loss at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime over a span of 82 games.
The momentum of the game turned when the Patriots, up 7-0, were looking to add to their lead after recovering a fumble by Chiefs’ rookie running back, Kareem Hunt, which came on his first carry, and the Chiefs’ first offensive play from scrimmage. Instead of capitalizing, though, the Patriots were stopped on a fourth down attempt in the red zone.
This stand by Kansas City was critical because if they had fallen behind by two touchdowns, they might have deviated from their game plan somewhat and become one-dimensional, which would have made things easy for the Patriots. The Chiefs, though, stood up and stuffed Patriots running back, Mike Gillislee for no gain before taking over on downs. What followed was 12-play, 90-yard march downfield, in which Hunt made up for his fumble by picking up 25 yards. Alex Smith capped off the series with an 8-yard pass to Demetrius Harris to tie the score at 7. This drive was a harbinger of things to come for New England’s defense.
Smith and Hunt would lead the way for the Chiefs the rest of the night. Hunt would wind up totaling 246 yards from scrimmage, including a 78-yard touchdown reception which put the Chiefs ahead to stay in the fourth quarter. His total output was the most by a rookie since the NFL merger in 1970. Alex Smith looked like an All-pro quarterback, and he was in command of the offense all night. He finished 28 of 35 for 368 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions while the Chiefs as an offense racked up a stunning 537 yards against a Patriots defense that struggled to find a solution all night.
To make matters worse, Patriots linebacker, Dont’a Hightower went down with a knee injury in the third quarter, which was believed to be a minor MCL sprain. Hightower exited the game after getting his leg rolled on by the Chiefs offensive lineman, Mitch Morse. The veteran linebacker was seen riding a stationary bike on the sidelines but didn’t return to the game. He played just 35 snaps. With the 10-day break before the Pats hit the field again, Hightower could play in week two.
On the other hand, Tom Brady looked plain ordinary against Kansas City’s defense. He looked every bit of his 40 years, hitting on just 16 of 36 passes and not throwing any touchdown passes. It was the first time since 2013 against the Jets where Brady finished below 50 percent passing in a regular season game. Despite having plenty of time to throw on most of his drop backs, his receivers seldom created separation from the Chiefs’ defenders, causing plenty of frustration for the entire New England offense. Chris Hogan finished with one catch for eight yards, and Rob Gronkowski, back from injury, finished with two catches for 33 yards. Things could have been uglier for the Patriots had it not been for the 15 penalties for 139 yards that the Chiefs were flagged for in the game.
As the Patriots have demonstrated in the past, one game does not make a season, especially for a team as consistently well-prepared and well-coached as they are. However, last night, at least, it was clear that Brady misses Julian Edelman, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, incurred in a preseason competition against Detroit. Edelman has that rare ability to find the soft spot in any defense and will his way open, and he has proven to be a most reliable target for Tom the last several years, going over 90 receptions in three of the last four seasons. On top of that, there are quite a few new faces in New England’s offense for Brady to get on the same page with, including the speedy wide out, Brandin Cook, who came over in a trade in the offseason with the Saints. Cook has a lot of talent and is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons, catching passes from Drew Brees, but how quickly he and Brady gel will be crucial to the success of the Patriots’ offense.
New England was further hampered last night by the loss of wide receiver Danny Amendola with a head injury in the second half. Amendola, who is expected to take on a bigger role this year after the Edelman injury, had been having a good game at the time of the injury, hauling in six passes for 100 yards. The nature of Amendola’s injury should worry the Patriots as he has a history of head injuries.
But the biggest injury of the night was suffered by Eric Berry. Berry was carted off the field midway through the fourth quarter and didn’t return with what we now know is a torn Achilles tendon. Berry immediately took off his gloves after the injury, a telling sign for a player whose leadership and toughness have helped to define his organization.
Berry missed the entire preseason with a heel injury, but he had played all 69 possible snaps Thursday at the time of his injury. Berry showed his incredible value to the team by being the first one in on the fourth down stop of New England in the first half and did a terrific job in his coverage duties of superstar Rob Gronkowski all night, as Gronk was a non-factor in the game. That sort of effort is what earned him a six-year, $78 million contract in February.
Berry, who was diagnosed with lymphoma during the 2014 season, returned to action the last two seasons and was named first-team All-pro in both years. Impossible to replace, Berry has proven he’s a survivor who doesn’t stay down for long.
[Featured Image by Michael Dwyer/AP Images]