The New England Patriots lost the coin toss but started perfectly into the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team went 80 yards on 15 plays to not only take eight minutes off the clock but also take a 7-0 lead — you can’t wish for anything more from the visitors’ perspective, especially considering that the series was an impressive one all around.
New England used a heavy dose of the running game to control the clock and tempo, converting three third downs along the way. The drive was capped by the Patriots’ impressive rookie running back Sony Michel:
Michel had seven carries for 32 yards on the opening series and the score above, as the Patriots made it pretty clear from the start that their intentions were to play a ball and time control game against a Chiefs defense that has struggled to stop the run this season.
After the touchdown, the Patriots defense took the field and added to the impressive play, allowing just one first down — on a holding call — before taking down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes for a 14-yard loss on 3rd and 10 to force a punt.
New England had another impressive drive after the punt but saw it end with an interception by Tom Brady on 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line.
The Patriots played some impressive defense early on, but gave up a 42-yard deep pass from Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill in the second quarter. However, defensive edge Trey Flowers made a huge sack to push the Chiefs out of field goal range.
Kansas City punted the football back to New England and the team’s offense delivered another impressive series: the Patriots marched 90 yards in eight plays — the biggest of which a 30-yard screen pass to James White — to add seven more points to their total. This time, it was wide receiver Phillip Dorsett:
Catching his third touchdown in the last three games, Phillip Dorsett put the Patriots up 14-0 while simultaneously helping take the crowd even further out of the game.
While the Patriots played a terrific first half, the team struggled in the second and had to watch the Chiefs come back into the game. After scoring a field goal, New England allowed Kansas City to score two touchdowns to take a 21-17 lead midway through the fourth period. However, the Patriots struck back and Sony Michel converted a fourth down to give the team the lead again:
Sony takes it in and the Pats jump back in the lead pic.twitter.com/OMbvVAmva1— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 21, 2019
The game was far from over, though. The Chiefs took another lead with 2:03 left in the game before New England once again marched down the field to go up — with Rob Gronkowski making the biggest play of his season at exactly the right time:
One play after Gronkowski’s massive 25-yard catch to convert a 3rd and 5, the Patriots were in the end zone again:
This time, it was Rex Burkhead’s turn to find the end zone and to give New England a 31-28 lead with only 39 seconds left on the clock. However, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs did not go without a fight and drove into scoring range yet again. A field goal tied the contest and sent it to overtime, where Tom Brady and company marched the length of the field — converting three third downs in the process — to set up this Rex Burkhead touchdown run:
Patriots 37, Chiefs 31 in one of the most thrilling AFC Championship Games in recent memory.