The real shock Monday night didn’t come from how badly the Patriots lost. The stunner was how lost they all looked, on the football field and on the sideline.

The Kansas City Chiefs beat New England’s favorite football team, 41-14. The Patriots fall from grace was chilling if not Biblical. Every time the television camera zoomed in on Bill Belichick’s dour face you started to believe you were watching an arrogant and proud man who had overestimated his capabilities and his team’s talent to the point he had lost contact with reality. He was watching his downfall.

That’s the definition of hubris. The NFL head coach who was proclaimed a genius after three Super Bowl victories seems no longer attuned to his own team or the league around him. Or am I overreacting?

You watched the 15-year rise of the Patriots to the ranks of elite franchises but now face the fact that nothing in this world is forever. Don’t go into denial. Belichick was and maybe still is a football innovator of the highest order. But over time, every scheme, every play set can be countered and even trumped.

Belichick never claimed to be infallible and Monday night Andy Reid, his counterpart on the other side of the field, was Belichickian in his team’s preparation and execution. On defense, the Patriots were guessing and floundering. On offense, the makeshift line played down to expectations giving Tom Brady little time to use his fading skills. He is no longer New England’s Tom Terrific.

He wasn’t Tom Terrific in Denver when the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC championship game last winter. The usual reasons and excuses were given: the injury to defensive back Aqib Talib for instance. The dominance of Peyton Manning and his receivers. Bad luck and bad karma for the Patriots.

In fact, the Patriots couldn’t match up to the Broncos in talent. As a fan you simply believed Belichick would put together another team for another run to the Super Bowl. Hubris.

Brady is still a lion but his arm strength and his accuracy are not what they once were even when he’s given time in the pocket. The excuses that his current receivers can’t get their timing down with him aren’t always valid. Brady threw to David Patten and David Givens early and often in his career and neither were Pro Bowl receivers. You can find other examples. Adjustments were made and the Patriots won.

Brady has done more with less but when skills erode with time there has to be compensation. Getting tight end Tim Wright from Tampa Bay wasn’t the answer. You didn’t see Wright on Monday night.

It’s hubris that Belichick didn’t shore up his offensive line heading into this season. He traded away Logan Mankins for what, Wright and cap room for 2015? What Belichick did was leave Brady more exposed when, at age 37, the quarterback needed more protection.

It’s hubris that Wes Welker was discarded and Danny Amendola was brought in and paid handsomely. That Amendola has been all but invisible through four games this year isn’t all his fault. Yes, Welker has been hurt with concussions, but who knew?

For years, opposing defenses never quite knew who Brady’s targets would be on game day. Now it’s too obvious.

Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium was the perfect storm. Whatever Reid and his coaching staff were selling, the Chiefs players were buying. Their energy levels were off the charts. Certainly it helped that the big crowd smelled blood from the start.

Instead of stepping up, the Patriots backed away. Except for Matthew Slater, of course. The special teams captain was a dynamo on the field. Too bad it wasn’t contagious.

The Patriots will win again. Belichick is too good as a coach and Brady can still manage a game plan effectively even if he can’t consistently throw deep downfield. The team can make the playoffs. Can is a far cry from will.

There is a little hubris in all of us. Belichick and Brady put it there. Monday night was the reality check.


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