FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady limped off the field under the worried stares of Patriots fans. The thing they feared most finally happened -- losing the NFL's reigning most valuable player to injury.
And their team plummeted from an exclamation point of an unbeaten 2007 regular season to a huge question mark in 2008 after it held on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-10, Sunday.
Brady hurt his left knee when tackled by safety Bernard Pollard midway through the first quarter. He went to the locker room and didn't return. Matt Cassel, who had thrown only 39 passes as Brady's backup the previous three seasons, took over.
The former USC backup did surprisingly well, completing 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown after failing to lead the Patriots to a touchdown in 17 possessions during four exhibition games.
But New England needed solid defense at the end to keep the lead.
Quoteworthy: "He was in a lot of pain. When you hear a scream, you know that." -- Bernard Pollard, Chiefs safety, on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's injury