The New England Patriots opened the season by unveiling their fifth Super Bowl banner, but were left stunned as they fell to a 42-27 loss on home soil to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The evening had begun with an ostentatious pre-game celebration that included oversized Lombardi trophies and a performance from Flo Rida.
But a Patriots side that many felt had strengthened in the off-season – despite the loss to injury if Julian Edelman – was stunned by the explosive Chiefs.
KC recorded three touchdown drives of 90 yards or more – with all six of their touchdowns coming from scoring drives in excess of 60 yards.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith took advantage of favorable match ups, and completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
The Patriots were nowhere near their best, but still led 27-21 heading into the fourth quarter, with now 40-year-old QB Brady looking set to extend his home record to 53-1 against AFC opponents – dating back to 2006.
But they were blown away as the Chiefs hit 21 points unanswered during the last 15 minutes.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt – a third-round pick – did the damage with a stunning debut.
Starting due to Spencer Ware’s season-ending knee injury, the Pats’ defence couldn’t cope with Hunt, who ran the ball for 148 yards, caught five passes for 98 yards more, and helped himself to three touchdowns.
“We didn’t make a lot of plays tonight,” said Brady afterwards. “We need to be a lot better in a lot of areas. Start with our attitude and our competitiveness.”
“I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better,” he said.