Patriots know they have to 'be better' in short yardage

One of the most stunning components of the Patriots' 42-27 loss to the Chiefs was the team's decision to opt out of the highly successful Tom Brady short-yardage sneak and twice hand the ball off to new power back Mike Gillislee on fourth-and-1 situations.

Both conversion attempts failed.

One, on the Patriots' second possession from the Chiefs' 10-yard line, robbed New England of the chance to deliver an early haymaker. Already up a touchdown, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first carry, turning the ball back to Brady. New England loaded up in a heavy formation with offensive tackle Nate Solder reporting eligible, packing next to Rob Gronkowski. Chiefs safety Eric Berry burst through the center of New England's line and tied up Gillislee for no gain.

The next time, in the fourth quarter on Kansas City's 40-yard line, Gillislee was again stuffed after the right side of the Patriots' offensive line sprang a leak.

"I'd have to go back and take a look at it," center David Andrewstold The Boston Herald. "But they just beat us and we can't let that happen again."

"We just got to do a better job," fullback James Develin added. "We have to go out there and be better, that's it."

First, the qualifiers: Gillislee looked fine in short distance runs throughout the night. One cannot score three goal-line touchdowns without being an adept runner in tight situations. Also, both stops were tremendous collective plays from Kansas City's remade defensive line. In both circumstances, the push up front was fantastic. Justin Houston bulled his way through a blocker on the second stop to bust up the Gillislee run.

I don't think it's time yet to make this an indictment on Brady's age. On one of the fourth-down attempts, the broadcast crew jokingly mentioned not using the quarterback sneak anymore because Brady is 40. I would find it hard to believe that coach Bill Belichick would curtail one of the more successful parts of his offense because a player can't do it anymore. Thursday night felt like Belichick was still feeling out the capabilities and limitations of his brand new fleet of running backs. While Gillislee was certainly worth the investment, perhaps nothing can replace Brady dipping below the line on fourth-and-inches.

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