The Patriots were in a unique spot on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. They found themselves as underdogs for the first time in 67 games.
Tom Brady and his teammates rallied around it, coming out of the gates with an even more convincing opening touchdown drive than they did during last week’s 41-28 victory over the Chargers. The drive finished in the same fashion as last week with Sony Michel finding the end zone for a 7-0 New England lead.
Bill Belichick’s defense dominated the first half, constantly bringing pressure on Patrick Mahomes. The elite defensive play call was good enough to shutout the NFL’s top-ranked offense, which averaged over 35 points per game, in the first half.
Just before halftime, the Patriots added onto their lead, as Brady found Phillip Dorsett for a 29-yard touchdown on a vintage throw by the 41-year-old. It was a confident march into the locker room for the Patriots and their fans, holding a 14-0 lead over the top seed in the AFC in their own house.
Things changed quickly with the start of the second half, as the Chiefs marched confidently down the field on their opening drive — Mahomes found his favorite target Travis Kelce for a touchdown. While the Patriots managed a field goal to bring the score to 17-7, the Chiefs were able to respond again, this time with Damien Williams for the first of his three touchdowns.
Where do we go from here …
Williams scored again for the Chiefs. Michel scored again for the Pats. You already know Williams scored his third touchdown, and it came at a crippling time with just over two minutes left, leaving New England down four points after the extra point.
Brady responded in classic fashion, and after driving the ball down the field, he found Rob Gronkowski on a crucial catch by the goal line. Rex Burkhead found his way into the end zone to put the Patriots up 31-28 with just 39 seconds remaining, putting them in promising position to get the win.
After a completion to Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs were in business. A pass interference call moved them into field goal range, but after a missed shot at the end zone, it was going to come down to a kick.
Harrison Butker put it right through the uprights for a 39-yarder, and almost rightfully so, the AFC Championship headed to overtime.
The Patriots won the coin toss and started with the ball, and that was all they needed. A tactical drive brought them down the field, highlighted by a 15-yard snag by Gronk on 3rd down, which gave the Patriots a first down on the 15-yard line.
After that it took three Rex Burkhead runs up the middle for the Pats to score the touchdown and earn the 37-31 victory. Just like that, a repeat of the 2001 Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams was in line.
“They don’t give these to you, you’ve got to earn them,” Brady concluded in a rowdy New England locker room. And the Patriots most certainly earned this one.