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8 takeaways from the Patriots 37-31 overtime victory over the Chiefs

Instant analysis from the 2018-19 AFC Championship Game

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What a game! The New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in over time with the final score of 37-31. This is what we learned.

Ignore the stat line- Tom Brady was dominant

Brady has one really bad play on the day- the interception on the goal line- and was nearly perfect for the rest of the game. There were a few other passes that ended up the hands of Chiefs defenders, but those were ricochets off the hands of New England receivers.

Brady finished with 30 completions of 46 attempts (65.2%) for 348 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. He had complete command of the offense, with only two drives ending in punts. He spread the ball to eight different receivers and led the game winning drive in overtime. What more could you ask for?

Sony Michel is the Patriots’ engine

Michel gained 113 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on 29 carries. This is one game after gaining 138 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers. That combined 251 yards and 5 touchdowns is exactly why Bill Belichick and company used a first round pick to add him to the team.

The Chiefs knew that the Patriots were going to be running the ball and they couldn’t stop it. Michel is such a fun player to watch!

Rob Gronkowski looks faster than at any point this year

So...where was this Gronk all year? This Gronkowski looked quick in the open field, was powerful after the catch, and dominant against the run. He gained 79 yards on 6 receptions off a game-high 11 targets. He was incredibly successful in one-on-one coverage on the outside against Eric Berry, which is a tough match-up even with Berry’s ongoing injuries.

This Gronkowski needs to show up one more game and that will make a huge difference in the Super Bowl.

Major tip of the hat to the Patriots’ offensive line

The Chiefs led the NFL in sacks during the regular season. They finished the game a solitary quarterback hit as they kept Brady clean the entire game. They also did a wonderful job paving the way for the New England running backs, as Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White combined for 177 rushing yards on 47 attempts (3.77 yards per attempt) and scored 4 touchdowns.

New England was elite in a few different facets of their game in 2018. The offensive line was one of them and they delivered.

The Patriots still made some questionable decisions

  • That play action pass to Rob Gronkowski on the goal line that was intercepted was a terrible decision. The play should have been for Gronkowski to run outside away from all of the traffic in the middle of the field.
  • The decision to give the ball to Rex Burkhead on 4th-and-1. Going for it was absolutely the right call, but Burkhead should not have received the carry over Michel or James Develin...or Brady...or Cordarrelle Patterson...or Julian Edelman on an end-around. Burkhead ran much better after he was stuffed, but at the time, he wasn’t very utilized and Michel was humming. Weird choice.
  • Julian Edelman nearly muffing that punt. Bad call to try and collect it after it bounced on the ground.
  • Asking Keion Crossen to cover Tyreek Hill instead of using Jonathan Jones. More on this later, but weird decision for a couple snaps.

Kyle Van Noy was the best defender on the field

Van Noy racked up 10 tackles. No other Patriots’ defender had more than 3 tackles. He picked up a pair of sacks. He had another quarterback hit and a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. What an amazing statline.

The Patriots held the Chiefs running backs to 30 yards on 10 carries and Van Noy was an important part of it. Well done.

The Patriots plan to defend the Chiefs’ passing attack was perfect

Bill Belichick’s defensive game plan is usually simple: remove the other team’s top options and force them to win with their depth. For the Chiefs, their offense runs through Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Hill and Kelce combined for 4 catches on 8 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots had Jonathan Jones cover Hill with safety help over the top, while J.C. Jackson was tasked with covering Kelce for much of the game. That allowed Stephon Gilmore to cover Sammy Watkins on an island, and let the Patriots’ focus on stopping the run and putting Kansas City into and-long situations.

Sure, Watkins finished with 4 catches for 114 yards, and, yeah, Damien Williams had 5 catches for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns. But the Patriots decided that if the Chiefs were going to win, they’d win with their depth and not with a big game from Hill or Kelce. Mission accomplished.

The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era is ridiculous

Belichick and Brady are heading to their ninth Super Bowl, their fifth this decade, their fourth in the past five years, and their third in-a-row.

Brady has been a starter for 17 seasons. He’s gone a Super Bowl in 9 of them. He reaches the Super Bowl a preposterous 52% of the time.

The Belichick/Brady duo are heading to their ninth Super Bowl. No other franchise has nine Super Bowl berths (the Pittsburgh Steelers are second with eight).

Win or lose in the Super Bowl, this Patriots team is ridiculous. Ridiculous. Ridiculous. Ridiculous. I hope everyone can enjoy this run!

Welcome to the Pats Pulpit Live Postgame Show: AFC Championship Edition The Patriots win a wild one and are headed to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta!

Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, January 20, 2019