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Pats score 24 second-half points in rout

Image: Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (© AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Julian Edelman celebrates his 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third.
Sports Xchange MIKE SHALIN
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

The Patriots arrived a little late for their date with the Chiefs on Monday night, but they announced their presence with 34 straight points and cruised to a 34-3 victory.

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"We just sucked in the first half," quarterback Tom Brady said.

"If you can't complete a pass, you're not going to move the ball. Can't run it, can't complete a pass ... we just didn't do anything."

After spotting the Chiefs a 3-0 first-quarter lead that lasted late into the second, the Patriots put up 24 points in less than 10 minutes to take control of the game early in the third quarter.

Playing their first game since losing quarterback (and former Patriot) Matt Cassel for the season with a broken hand, the Chiefs lacked the firepower to mount a comeback.

Brady — who absorbed three sacks and lost a fumble as the Chiefs (4-6) took their lead — threw two touchdown passes to tight end Rob Gronkowski, while Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for a TD, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a pair of short field goals and rookie running back Shane Vereen ran for a 4-yard score on fourth down with 61 seconds left.

The Pats improved to 7-3 to move two games ahead of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

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"He really does everything you ask a tight end to do,"  Brady said of Gronkowski. "He's dangerous out there."

KC's Tyler Palko made his first NFL start and threw three interceptions, two of them on tipped balls gathered in by Kyle Arrington, who has a league-leading seven picks this season.

Palko completed 25 of 38 passes for 236 yards but was never really a threat because of the turnovers and minimal success attacking downfield.

The Chiefs' lone score, a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Succop with 1:30 left in the first quarter, capped a drive that started on a 25-yard punt return by Javier Arenas.

Thomas Jones had a 26-yard run that got the ball down to the Patriots' 5, but Kansas City didn't get a touchdown on either of its two red-zone trips.

Jones said he was impressed with Palko in defeat.

"I thought he handled himself great. He was poised. He knew the offense. He ran the offense well. I thought he did a great job."

Things changed quickly for the Patriots, who were meeting the Chiefs for the first time since Brady was lost for the season in the 2008 opener against Kansas City.

The Patriots went 82 yards in a hurry to take the lead for good with 4:18 to play in the second quarter. After two straight completions to tight end Aaron Hernandez for 22 yards and two runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis for eight more, Brady hit a wide-open Gronkowski cutting across the middle, and the tight end tight-roped the last six yards for the 52-yard score.

Then a mishandled pass by Steve Breaston fell into the hands of Arrington, who picked it off before it hit the turf.

"It's just being around the ball," Arrington said. "We try to be an opportunistic defense. If I could get into the end zone one of these times, that would be good, too."

Arrington didn't score, but the Patriots would convert the pick into points. The interception put the ball at the New England 46, and Brady hit Danny Woodhead for 16 and Gronkowski for 17 yards.

The Patriots got all the way down to the Kansas City 3 before settling for a 21-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 10 seconds left in the half.

New England received the second-half kickoff and Brady drove the offense 85 yards, the last 19 on a spectacular catch and run by Gronkowski, who broke one tackle and did a somersault into the end zone, landing on his head.

He looked like he was hurt, but quickly got up and slammed the ball down. He was checked out by medical personnel on the sideline.

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"I just got the wind knocked out of me a little bit, so I mean you know how that is when it happens," he said.

The reception made it 17-3 before Edelman ripped off the second punt return touchdown of his career.

Edelman played on offense, defense and special teams.

"He put a lot into it," said nose tackle Vince Wilfork. "A lot of credit goes to that guy, because he stepped up big for us."

Arrington's second interception of the night led to the Patriots getting another short field goal, this time 19 yards, from Gostkowski on the final play of the third quarter.

Tagged: Chiefs, Patriots, Tom Brady, Tyler Palko, Kyle Arrington, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Stephen Gostkowski

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