The question going into the AFC Championship Game was how would this game live up to the standard set by the 43-40 classic in Week 6 between these two teams. Amazingly, the rematch might have surpassed the original as the 2018 Patriots game of the year.
Both teams came into Arrowhead with a jock strap full of confidence. League MVP and wunderkind Patrick Mahomes was at the helm of the NFL’s top scoring offense with veteran coach Andy Reid calling the shots. Brady and Belichick returned to the AFCCG with Deflate-Gate firmly in their rear view mirror, although owner Robert Kraft arrived in KC with a set of freshly drained balls (allegedly).
The Patriots game plan to slow down the high-powered KC offense became abundantly clear in the first quarter. Run the ball, control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field. Similar to the divisional round the Patriots opened the game with a run-heavy, 15 play, 80 yard, 8+min drive ending in a Sony Michel 1 yard TD plunge. If not for a Brady interception on the KC goal line the score could have quickly become lopsided, but the Chiefs hung around despite being soundly outplayed in the first half. A 30 yard TD pass from Brady to Philip Dorsett with 30 seconds left in the half put the Patriots up 14-0 going into the break. The Patriots’ game plan had worked to perfection with the Chiefs only running 16 offensive plays for a total of 37 yards in the entire first half.
The third quarter remained a somewhat cagey affair with KC trading a 12 TD pass from Mahomes to Kelce for a Stephen Gostowski 47 yard field goal; however, the tide appeared to be turning as the Patriots offense was stalling and the Chiefs offense was finding a rhythm. The fourth quarter began with the Patriots leading 17-7 but the last 15 min session was quite possibly the most entertaining quarter of football of the 2018 NFL season.
- 14:51: The Chiefs offense caps off a 75 yard drive with a Damien Williams 1 yard TD rush to make it a one score game (17-14).
- 9:38: After driving to the KC 25 yard line, the Patriots go for it on 4th and 1 and Rex Burkhead is STONED by noted white LB Daniel Sorensen.
- 8:47: Chiefs are forced to punt after a 3-and-out but Julian Edelman appears to muff the kick leading to a KC recovery. Video replay seemingly exonerates Edelman as the ball scoots past his arm by the width of your sister’s pubic hair. NFL Twitter loses its collective mind.
- 8:06: Ball don’t lie? Brady is intercepted by noted white LB Daniel Sorensen and Edelman is decapitated for good measure. Chiefs ball at the NE 30 yard line.
- 7:52: Andy Reid baits the aggressive Patriots defense and Damien Williams takes a misdirection screen pass 23 yards for a TD (17-21). Chiefs have their first lead of the game.
- 3:35: Jesus in Cleats (Tom Brady) responds as he always does, helped by a phantom roughing the passer call and a failed KC challenge on a Chris Hogan 3rd down SNAG. Patriots again risk it on 4th and 1 and Michel walks in from the ten. (24-21). Pats back in front.
- 2:06: A Sammy Watkins reception sets up the Chiefs up at the Patriots 2 and Damien Williams hammers it home for his third TD of the quarter (24-28). Somewhere, Kareem Hunt hangs his head in shame. Chiefs back in front.
- 1:01: With the Patriots driving into KC territory, Brady’s pass deflects off Gronkowski’s hands and is intercepted by Charvarius Ward. Game over…..flag…..Dee Ford offsides….fresh set of downs.
- 0:49: Two plays later (including a retro Gronk back-shoulder catch) and Burkhead has flipped the score yet again (31-38). Pats back in front.
- 0:11: Welcome to the NFL in 2018 where 49 seconds is “leaving too much time” for the opposing QB. Mahomes documents his scrotum size and sets up Harrison Butker for a 39 game-tying field goal (31-31).
Before we get to the OT, take a moment and appreciate that 4th quarter. I don’t care if you are a Patriots fan, a Chiefs fan, an NFL fan or an AAF fan; that is why you watch football. Fifteen minutes of pure butthole-clenching drama with the highest of stakes. Tony Romo was officially at full mast and there was still more football to play.
The overtime period played out like a movie we have all seen before (my favorite movie). It had a feeling of inevitability. It was so familiar that Romo was calling out the plays before they even happened. Patriots win the coin toss. Brady third-and-10 to Edelman. Brady third-and-10 to Edelman. Brady third-and-ten to Gronkowski. Rex Burkhead power run. Game winning touchdown. In the words of NE legend Scott Zolak “We’re going back, baby! And there ain’t nothing you can do about it! America’s worst nightmare is BACK!"