For the third straight season, the New England Patriots are moving on to the Super Bowl. It took overtime, but the calm, cool, calculated Patriots set out to do what they needed to secure another Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy. For the Chiefs, things started slow, similarly to the earlier matchup against New England. They fought back again, as they did in the previous game this season, but their effort was not enough to reach their Super Bowl dream. We’ll look at how both teams fared in this game overall on both sides of the ball and what the future may hold. Let’s get to the Chiefs-Patriots recap.
The Patriot Way Prevails
The Patriots dominance is due to many things. First of all, Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches ever. Also, Tom Brady is definitely the greatest quarterback I have ever seen play. But the main reason the Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl is that they do everything they need to do as a team.
Brady played really well, but overall the offense prevailed in all aspects. The Patriots ran the rock plenty of times. This kept the ball away from Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense enough throughout the game. Also, the New England offensive line bulldozed the Chiefs defense upfront. Trent Brown had a very nice game at left tackle. As a result, Brady wasn’t even sacked once. There were times late in the game where the Chiefs were stuck in their tracks, not being able to create pressure. Plus, for all the talk about Rob Gronkowski possibly mulling retirement, he still dominated by making catches against the likes of Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen and others. Some of those receptions allowed the Patriots to convert on third down or be set up inside the red zone.
Defensively, they stifled the Chiefs gameplan early. Mahomes was forced to hold onto the ball due to good man coverage on the back end. New England does well every week at tackling. They do not miss nearly the amount of tackles that other teams do. The Patriots were perfect in the first half and made the Chiefs look like the KC playoff offenses of old.
New England did all the little things well and was much better than the Chiefs early. They’re just that sharp, focused, locked in, whatever you want to call it. Above all, the Patriots were going to trump anything Kansas City threw their way.
I talked about the Patriots being the sharper team beforehand. Overall, the Chiefs’ concepts on concepts were stifled by man coverage. With New England playing Cover 0/Cover 1, Kansas City had no answer. The routes taking too long to develop or being covered up by good coverage did work well for Mahomes. It seemed like the Chiefs wanted to run the ball more this week, but it was up and down early. It really wasn’t as close of a first half as the scored showed. To be down 14-0 was pretty impressive. The Patriots were just so calculated and methodical in their first-half drives that they were not scoring points at a premium. If Reggie Ragland did not make that interception in the end zone, the Patriots would have already had more first-half points than anyone had against the Chiefs defense in a while.
In the second half, the Chiefs offense got their footing. They scored 31 points, which was the same amount they scored against the Patriots in the second half in the matchup earlier in the season. The Chiefs receivers found ways to get open. The quickness and speed of the skill players picked up large chunk plays for Kansas City. Mahomes matching Brady was pretty exciting to watch. Despite Mahomes matching Brady blow for blow, the Chiefs quick strike scores weren’t enough.
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The defense struggled on third down all night long. They could not get off the field, a recurring problem this season. Their patented pass rush was mowed down and Brady had a field day with mostly soft coverage. In overtime, the Chiefs had three different times where they could not stop the Patriots on 3rd and 10. Ultimately, the running game and blocking in the red zone manhandled the Chiefs front and Rex Burkhead plunged into the end zone to secure the Patriots win.
Like any big game, especially in the postseason, there were calls that were complained about. But overall, it was a pretty cleanly called game. The obvious one the Chiefs fans are complaining about is the roughing the passer that Chris Jones was called for. He reached over the Patriots offensive lineman’s shoulder and hit Brady on the shoulder/chest. The ref thought he may have hit Brady in the head. But, that call did not lead to the Patriots win, the Chiefs defense just was not good enough to stop the New England offense. Also, you had Dee Ford lining just a few inches offsides, but what are you going to do. That one is just so unlucky for Ford.
I also want to say for those that are complaining about overtime rules, the NFL already changed it with a field goal on the first possession not ending the game right away. The Chiefs defense had to make a stop. There were three different 3rd and 10s, they did not get off the field game over. There has to be a winner and a loser, this time, the Chiefs came out on the unfortunate side of it.
Just The Beginning?
It’s safe to say the future looks bright for the Chiefs. Mahomes far exceeded most people’s expectations in his first year as the starting quarterback, and he will likely win the NFL MVP. In this loss, Mahomes led the Chiefs to 31 points in the second half on just 32 plays. Plus, he took KC from their own 31-yard line down 3 with 32 seconds left and managed to set up a game-tying field goal to push the Chiefs into overtime by making throws in tight windows. The performance he displayed in the postseason and throughout the regular season, learning on the fly and elevating the Chiefs offensive concepts every week makes things feel better after a crushing loss like this. With Mahomes being 23 years old and the overall core of the team being young, this is just the start for this offense and team.
The Chiefs took a step forward in the playoffs. They secured their first home playoff win in a quarter century, and it happened in a year where most predicted the Chiefs to win 9-10 games max in the regular season. Kansas City broke team and NFL records left and right. There is a lot of good things to look forward to.
What Does The Future Hold?
As we head into the offseason, we know some things will change. The defense played good in some situations, but overall it was a deficient season. Andy Reid and the front office are going to look back on the thing that transpired this season. With news today about more reports of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and other defensive coaches possibly be ousted, I think it’s time to make a change. This AFC Championship Game loss was not even Sutton’s worst gameplan or job performance all season long. With the reports of the Patriots and even other teams having little trouble communicating and knowing what the Chiefs were doing on defense that tells a lot. We’ll see if a change is made or not.
Thankfully, the draft is loaded with defensive talent this year. Right now the Chiefs hold 8 draft selections this upcoming April. How will the Chiefs attack the draft this year? Will they be aggressive in free agency? Will Eric Berry be good to go next season after a possible heel surgery? We will find all that out later.
I just want to say how fun of a season this was watching the Chiefs and being able to write about them. Like we said, hopefully, this is just the beginning. As the Chiefs head into the offseason, it will be time to write about draft prospects, free agency possibilities and more decisions that we at Full Press Chiefs think could be made. Be sure to continue to check out Full Press Coverage throughout the offseason. Thank you all!