New England's Rob Gronkowski goes airborn Monday night against the Chiefs as Pats roll Kansas City…
Palko Stumbles As Chiefs Fall 34-3
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)
Tyler Palko was a harsh critic of his first NFL start.
Palko completed 25 of 38 passes for 236 yards, but that wasn't nearly enough to overcome the three interceptions he threw as the Kansas City Chiefs unraveled in a 34-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday night.
''This game is hard enough as it is without making mistakes,'' said Palko, who had thrown only 13 career passes before Monday night. ''When you make mistakes it's going to show up, and show up at inopportune times.''
The Chiefs (4-6) led 3-0 after the first quarter, then got routed as they lost their third straight.
New England's defense allowed Kansas City to move the ball at times but kept the Chiefs out of the end zone and converted two of the three turnovers into points.
''Three interceptions is inexcusable. I don't care whether the ball is tipped or whatnot,'' Palko said. ''The ball left my hand and I'm accountable for those passes. You can't turn the ball over in this league.''
Palko also took the blame for the three times he was sacked, saying he needs to get rid of the ball quicker. But he could not be held responsible for Kansas City's special teams blunder when Julian Edelman broke a punt return 72 yards for a touchdown to put the Patriots up 24-3 with 9:24 left in the third quarter.
The play came 1:03 after Tom Brady's 19-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski gave New England a 17-3 advantage.
The back-to-back touchdowns all but sealed it for New England (7-3), which took a two-game lead in the AFC East.
''We did too many things that get you beat in this league too many times,'' Kansas City coach Todd Haley said.
The Chiefs weren't expected to do much on offense behind Palko, making his first career start with Matt Cassel injured. Ryan Succop's 26-yard field goal with 1:30 left in the first quarter was the only scoring for Kansas City.
Brady had two touchdown passes to Gronkowski, his ninth and 10th TD receptions of the year, and the Patriots had their second straight dominant game after beating the New York Jets 37-16.
The Patriots didn't generate much of an attack during their first four series. There were three punts and a fumble by Brady that was recovered by Kansas City's Allen Bailey on the first play of the second quarter. And on his next series, Brady was sacked twice.
Then the protection improved and Brady, who had thrown for just 19 yards in the first quarter, took advantage, leading three consecutive scoring drives.
''We just allowed too many big plays on defense,'' Haley said.
Brady connected with Gronkowski for a 52-yard score when the tight end caught the ball over the middle and scampered the last 35 yards, barely managing to remain inbounds on the right side as he neared the end zone.
Kyle Arrington, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions, got his first of the game on Kansas City's next series and Stephen Gostkowski made it 10-3 at halftime with a 21-yard field goal.
The Patriots got the ball to start the third quarter and marched 85 yards on nine plays, scoring on Brady's 19-yard pass to Gronkowski, who somersaulted into the right corner of the end zone after being hit by Derrick Johnson.
Gronkowski has 20 touchdowns in 26 career games, surpassing Mike Ditka's mark of 31 for the fewest games needed by a tight end to reach 20 touchdowns. He also pulled within three of the single-season, tight end record of 13 touchdown receptions held by Antonio Gates of San Diego and Vernon Davis of San Francisco.
Just 1:03 after Gronkowski's second touchdown, Edelman got the second punt-return touchdown of his career.
Arrington picked off another pass on the Chiefs' next possession, leading to a 19-yard field goal by Gostkowski.
And just when it looked as if Palko might direct his team to a touchdown, he threw an interception to Phillip Adams in the end zone with 10:50 left in the game.
The Patriots finished the scoring on rookie Shane Vereen's first NFL touchdown, a 4-yard run with 1:01 left.
In the previous meeting between the teams, Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury in the 2008 opener and was replaced by Cassel. But Cassel injured his throwing hand in the Chiefs' last game, a 17-10 loss to Denver, and had season-ending surgery on Nov. 14.
Brady was 15 of 27 for 234 yards and no interceptions.
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