On Sunday night the Kansas City Chiefs hosted the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium. This was the eighth straight AFC Championship for Tom Brady and the Patriots, and the first ever for any player on the Chiefs’ roster. Ahead of this game, the Chiefs were favored by three points, mostly due to their home-field advantage, and the Patriots used this as a chip on their shoulder to further motivate them to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance.
In the first half, the Patriots were able to do what no team has done all year. The Patriots defense held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense scoreless for the first two quarters, while Brady and the Patriots were able to put up 14 points. This was eerily similar to the meeting between these teams in week six, where the Patriots led the Chiefs 24-9 after the first half. During the second half of both of these games, things got a lot more interesting.
Mahomes and the Chiefs came out swinging in the second half, going on a quick drive down the field to put up a touchdown and slow down the momentum of the Patriots. From that point on, the game became a closely contested shootout all the way to the end of regulation. Several big plays for both teams, and a lot of weird officiating later, Tom Brady was leading the Patriots down the field for a game-winning drive in overtime to send them to another Super Bowl.
There were several key factors in this game that led to a victory for the Patriots, but likely the most important was the protection of Tom Brady. Brady was virtually untouched throughout the game, with only a couple of knockdowns after the throw and zero sacks. On the other hand, the Patriots defensive line was able to get to Mahomes consistently and flush him out of the pocket, recording four sacks on the night.
Brady wasn’t the only one protected by the offensive line in this game however, as the Patriots rushing attack looked as good as it has all year. Sony Michel ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, and Rex Burkhead was able to sneak through the defense in overtime for the game winning touchdown. Thanks to the success in the run game, the Patriots were able to more than double the Chiefs’ time of possession, keeping their explosive offense off the field as much as possible.
This was an all around win for the Patriots, in a game that was as balanced as they’ve looked all year. They now head to Atlanta to take on the Los Angeles Rams in their third straight Super Bowl appearance, where the Rams open up as a one point favorite to win.