Pats’ foes must keep on toes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ no-huddle offense gives the defense no time to take a break.

So the Kansas City Chiefs better get plenty of rest before tonight’s game.

“Anyone that is 300 pounds and has to run play after play and doesn’t get a break is going to get tired,” Patriots left guard Logan Mankins said.

New England has operated without a huddle on about 25 percent of its plays this season. The ball isn’t always snapped quickly, since Tom Brady takes time to read the defense and get signals from offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. But the defense has little time to make substitutions, leaving it with tired players or the wrong ones for the expected play.

In the Patriots’ last game, a 37-16 win over the New York Jets, they led 16-9 when they got the ball with 7:36 left in the third quarter. They ran six straight plays without a huddle, gaining 37 yards, before Brady, in the shotgun formation after huddling, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski.

On their next possession, they picked up 38 yards on six consecutive plays without a huddle, moving the ball to the Jets 27-yard line. They huddled for the remaining four plays of the drive, finishing with Brady’s 8-yard scoring pass to Deion Branch for a 30-16 lead.

Brady completed all three of his passes without a huddle for a total of 39 yards against the Jets.

That win gave the Patriots (6-3) sole possession of first place in the AFC East, with an easy schedule remaining. The Chiefs (4-5) are coming off a 17-10 loss to the Denver Broncos but are just one game behind AFC West leader Oakland.

The decision to run a play without a huddle depends on the game situation, not a pregame strategy.

“It’s not something you would come into the game and say, ‘We’re going to run this all game,’ ” Branch said. “You think about the Jets game. It just happened. It was during the course of a series and (the coaches) said, ‘Let’s go.’ ”

For the offense, the process is more organized than it might seem.

“The mechanics of just huddling basically on the ball, which is really just what we’re doing, is fairly, I wouldn’t say easy, but there’s not a lot of mechanics to it,” O’Brien said.

It helps that Brady is adept at reading defenses and changing a call to one that he feels has a better chance to succeed.

He also has dependable receivers such as Gronkowski, Branch, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, who leads the NFL with 72 receptions, to execute those plays.

The Patriots put their faith in the no-huddle offense from the start of the season. In a 38-24 win over the Miami Dolphins in the opener, they used the no-huddle on 27 of their 71 plays. Brady was 12 for 18 for 180 yards without a huddle.

Don’t expect the Chiefs’ offense to run many no-huddle plays, not with unproven Tyler Palko making his first start at quarterback. Matt Cassel is sidelined with an injured throwing hand.

Palko has played in four NFL games, throwing 13 passes.


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