1

Underdogs? Patriots show pedigree, down Chiefs in AFC title game

Underdogs? Patriots show pedigree, down Chiefs in AFC title game

Make it nine Super Bowls in 19 years for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots after their 37-31 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at frigid Arrowhead Stadium.

If anybody thought the Patriots “suck and can’t win any games,” think again.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

If anybody thought the Patriots can’t win on the road and get to the Super Bowl, not a problem.

Playing in his 13th championship game, the 41-year-old Brady improved to 11-0 against first-time playoff quarterbacks, beating 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes, the league’s presumptive MVP, for the second time this season.

The Patriots, who will play the Rams on Feb. 3 in Atlanta, join the Miami Dolphins (three) and Buffalo Bills (four) as the only teams to reach three consecutive Super Bowls. New England tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most playoff wins (36).

In Sunday’s victory, a first half that masterfully had the offense, defense and special teams complementing one another was critical. The Patriots had a time-of-possession edge of 21:07 to 8:53, and establishing the running game — often using bigger personnel that featured two tight ends and fullback James Develin — was a big part of the plan. That allowed the Patriots to play the game on their terms. On defense, playing a four-corner dime package was something a bit different and proved a smart approach against a dangerous Chiefs offense that was held scoreless in the first half for the first time since Week 4 of the 2016 season. If not for a Brady interception from the Chiefs’ 1-yard line, the Patriots’ 14-0 lead at the half would have been wider.1

Then they held on, barely, with rookie running back Sony Michel playing a key role down the stretch and Brady leading another magical, fourth-quarter drive, getting the ball at his own 35 with 1:57 left and trailing 28-24. Rex Burkhead capped off the drive with a 4-yard TD. Meanwhile, Michel’s fourth-quarter touchdown was his fifth of the postseason, the most by any rookie in NFL postseason history.

But Mahomes got the ball with 32 seconds left and drove the Chiefs into field-goal range, and Harrison Butker sent the game into overtime with a 39-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.

The Patriots won the coin toss and took the ball, and Brady led them on another winning drive with Burkhead scoring from 2 yards out.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“As soon as I saw it was heads, I ran off. I’ve seen this before,” said safety Devin McCourty, one of the team’s captains. “Anytime we go to overtime and we get the ball, I’m not really worried about anything. I’m going to get comfortable.”

Brady has now engineered 57 career game-winning performances to lead his team back from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.

These Patriots embraced the underdog role this postseason, with captain McCourty saying players had a chip on their shoulder after a season of listening to critics talk about their deficiencies — Brady no longer playing at an MVP level, limited personnel at receiver, an aging tight end no longer playing at high level and an inconsistent defense — and how they didn’t compare to past championship teams.