By Arnie Leshin
Under cloudy skies with a chill in the air, it was quite a night for New England Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium Sunday night.
This doesn’t include all fans of the Pats. They had nothing to do with their team getting away with not a penalty called, which is usually unprecedented.
And they didn’t spray beer all over the Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Tyreke Hill. Nope, it was one fan who tossed the beer and another who showed him her middle finger.
Maybe Hill should have come to a stop after he scored his third touchdown on a 75-yard pass play with 3:03 to go and his team down by three points.
But the big back dashed into the end zone and continued below the home fans. First came the beer. It landed on Hill’s face. Then came the finger from a near-by young lady. Not long after came the field goal with no time remaining that brought New England the 43-40 victory and knocked KC out of the undefeated ranks.
The Chiefs were flagged five times for 58 yards, but there wasn’t a yellow flag against the Patriots, which was no fault of the fans. And there are fans like this all over the National Football League. Check out Oakland,
Pittsburgh, and the other places where boozing fans get a kick out of being safely in their seats and throwing objects at the opponent. Of course that includes beer.
On this night at Gillette, there wasn’t any shaving cream or razor blades
handy, but beer was all over the place, as well as on Hill’s face.
In covering professional sports for many years, the then-Boston Garden had spectators at courtside often removed from the arena for telling the officials where to go. That, too, occurs at other NBA venues, but this stadium at Foxboro is about an hour drive from Boston, so it doesn’t matter. Beer is everywhere, and so are rowdy fans.
This put a damper on an exciting game. New England (4-2) led 10-6 after one quarter and 24-9 at halftime. But the Chiefs scored 17 points in the third quarter and trailed only 27-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
Hill’s last TD put Kansas City ahead, but then came the field goal and more beer for the fans. But why spray it all over Hill? Why the finger? Put yourself in his place, but he only carried the football and didn’t deserve this.
In regard to the zero penalties that the Pats had, there were other interesting statistics. For instance, there was 65,848 packed into Gillette Stadium, and only a few home team fans spoiled things by greeting Hill with this and that.
As for the other stadiums, Dallas had the largest crowd, 90,767, and Carolina the least at 60,482. In first downs, that honor went to Tampa Bay with 30, but it lost the game. The Titans’ seven first downs were at the bottom of the heap.
In total yards, the Miami Dolphins picked up 541 in the overtime win over the visiting Chicago Bears also decided by a field goal as time expired. Possession of the ball belonged to the Cowboys with 38:50 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, who did so for only 21:10.
Kick off returns went to two losers even though the Cleveland Browns ran for 120 yards on five returns, and KC five for 119. Rushing? All Dallas with 206 yards on 42 carries. Tennessee didn’t have much of a day and punted nine times for an average of 41.7. New England punted as many times as it was flagged.
Punt returns? Jacksonville was minus two and the Baltimore Ravens kicked four for 50 yards. Then came the passing and the Buccaneers, in defeat, threw for 389 yards, Atlanta, in winning, had 346 passing yards.
And then there were the penalties. None for the patriots, 12 for 104 yards for the Buffalo Bills, 10 for 72 for the Los Angeles Chargers, and 10 for 70 for the Ravens.
And no controversy regarding the National Anthem. A ‘pat’ on the back for that.