Patriots Prime Time: A Brief Monday Night History

The Patriots and Chiefs have clashed three times on Monday Night football heading into tonight’s game, with the Patriots holding a 3-0 record: a 30-24 win on December 4, 2000, at Foxboro Stadium; a 27-19 win on November 22, 2004, at Arrowhead Stadium; and a 34-3 victory November 21, 2011, at Gillette Stadium. That last result may ring a bell with the mention of Tyler Palko, the Chiefs’ emergency starter at quarterback who threw three interceptions. Through a scheduling quirk, New England and Kansas City will meet for the second consecutive time on Monday Night Football this evening.

Kansas City leads the all-time series 16-13-3 against old AFL rival New England, the teams having played twice a year prior to the AFL/NFL merger in 1966. That record includes a 10-3-1 Chiefs advantage in games played in Kansas City and a 4-1 record at Arrowhead Stadium, their home since 1972. Between 1970 and 1992, the Patriots never visited Kansas City and somehow these conference foes didn’t play each other at all between 1981 and 1990.

Tonight’s game is the Patriots’ first in Kansas City since 2005, a 26-16 loss in which Tom Brady threw four interceptions. Brady is 13-5 over his career on Monday night and set a personal single-game mark with 517 yards passing against Miami in the 2011 season opener. Patriots.com notes Brady has thrown three or more touchdowns on Monday Night Football nine times, while tossing four scoring passes on four of those occasions.

In the Bill Belichick Era, the Patriots are 15-6 on Monday Night, leaving the team a win shy of evening their all-time record (22-23). Further, under Belichick, the Patriots are 8-5 in road games on Monday Night.

Old frenemy Eugene Chung is now the Chiefs’ assistant offensive line coach, proving the old adage: “Those who can’t do, teach.” If emulation of his own performances has been part of the lesson plan, there may well be some holes for the Patriots defense to exploit. Current Patriots tight ends coach Brian Daboll is a former offensive coordinator for Kansas City, having served in that capacity in 2012 under former Head Coach Romeo Crennel.

Two years ago the Boston Globe’s Obnoxious Boston Fan shared an in-depth look back at the team’s most famous Monday Night Football appearance: when John Lennon was shot and killed on December 8, 1980. In the waning moments of regulation in Miami, as Patriots placekicker John Smith lined up for a winning field goal attempt (which was blocked), legendary ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell, joined in the MNF booth by colleagues Frank Gifford and Fran Tarkenton, broke the tragic news to a stunned nation. Miami would go on to win in overtime, but the outcome was of little consequence. In Cosell’s words, that night it was “just a football game.”

Infamously, a 35-21 loss to Dallas on Sept. 21, 1981 was New England’s last MNF appearance for more than a decade. “Rowdy fans” began brawling in the stands on national television and a near-riot ensued, prompting the Foxboro city council to take action. Monday Night Football would not return to the suburb until 1995.

Kevin Saleeba at PatriotsInsider.com compiled a list of the Top Ten MNF games in Patriot history. The Lennon game ranks #1 and the 1981 Brawl checks in at #5 among the many memorable contests. New England also helped draw the curtains on 35 years of MNF on ABC when they played the New York Jets in the network’s final broadcast on Dec. 26, 2005.

Follow David on Twitter @SoSH_davemc.

David R. McCullough is the Editor-in-Chief of Inside the Pylon. He also writes about the topicsshaping the sport, examines the coaches and players, ruminates on football’s past, and explores the controversial issues facing the game.

 

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