The Chiefs had a loud crowd behind them at their Arrowhead Stadium home and the best young quarterback in the game. They just didn’t have Tom Brady.
The wild and woolly AFC championship boiled down to this: quarterback Brady of the New England Patriots had the ball first in overtime. If you’re his opponent, that’s never a good thing, and Brady made them pay, resulting in a 37-31 New England victory.
The Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs were like prize fighters, trading scores in an exciting fourth quarter, scoring an AFC championship record 38 points in the period. Kansas City kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 39-yard field goal with eight seconds left to send the game to overtime.
That’s when the Pats won the overtime coin toss, and Brady surgically went to work on a fatigued Chiefs defense. Brady, referred to by many as the Greatest of All-Time (with five rings to underline the claim), now leads the Patriots to Super Bowl LIII, the team’s third straight trip to the big game. They will face the Los Angeles Rams in a similar match-up of old gunslinger Brady versus a young fast draw artist, quarterback Jared Goff of the Rams.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes led a valiant effort, but never got on the field in overtime. After a slow start in the first half, Mahomes had the vaunted Kansas City offense humming, capping it with a drive that saw running back Damian Williams score late in the fourth to put the Chiefs at ahead 28-24, then another drive that tied the game to send it into overtime.
The two teams traded blows across the fourth quarter, trading leads and making big plays. A fourth quarter touchdown run by New England’s Sony Michel put NE ahead 24-21 with 3:32 to go, but then Mahomes came back with the Williams touchdown to go up. Then Brady hit a big pass to monster tight end Rob Gronkowski to get his team inside the five, leading to the final regulation touchdown. Mahomes managed to get them to a tie, but never had the chance for more.
The game was filled with key moments. One of the most memorable was an apparent muff on a punt by NE’s Julian Edelman, a mistake which appeared to give the Chiefs the ball back deep in Pats territory. The call was overturned after the replay showed he didn’t touch it, keeping the ball with New England. It appeared to be a game-changing referee decision, but moments later, a passed intended for Edelman tipped off his fingertips and was intercepted by the Chiefs.
Super Bowl LIII will be played Feb. 3 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.