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Week 20 Game Recap: New England Patriots 37, Kansas City Chiefs 31


What you need to know

New England Patriots

The Patriots came through with a strong running game throughout the contest and clutch third down passing in overtime. A replay overturning a muffed punt and offsides penalty on a key interception helped them avoid the loss. Rob Gronkowski looked as good as he has since Week 1 and played a crucial role in the win.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the New England Patriots 37-31 in overtime of the AFC Championship on Sunday. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes went 16 of 31 for 295 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing two times for 11 yards. Damien Williams rushed 10 times for 30 yards and a touchdown, while also catching five passes for 66 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Sammy Watkins led the Chiefs receivers with four catches for 114 yards, while Tyreek Hill was shut down, catching only one pass for 42 yards on three targets. Tight end Travis Kelce did not fare much better, catching three passes for 23 yards and a touchdown on five targets.

New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady, 97 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 46 - 348 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0
It wasn't his greatest performance, but Tom Brady came up clutch when it mattered most, aided once again by a good run game and amazing o-line performances. By far the most egregious play was Brady's red zone interception, which was a poor throw and poor display of vision. The play came off play action in a run formation with a tight end running up the middle. However, two defenders were in position to make a play, and Brady still threw the ball anyway. It erased sure points from the board. His second interception was a throw off Julian Edelman's fingertips. The ball could have been placed better, but Edelman should have caught the ball regardless. His touchdown was a deep ball to Phillip Dorsett, who had a great concentration grab while being covered to go along with a great catch. However, Brady's performance will likely be remembered for overtime, where he absolutely drilled three critical third down passes to keep the engine humming and eventually cap off the win. These included two 3rd-and-10 conversions and a 3rd and 5 that went to Julian Edelman and Gronk, his most trusted veteran receivers. As aforementioned, his offensive line played absolutely stellar, as Brady was barely touched at all on the day, allowing his receivers to get open. The hunt for ring number 6 is one game away.

RB Sony Michel, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 29 - 113 - 2
The running game hummed on all cylinders against the Chiefs, with a strong game from Michel and wonderful blocking all around. Michel had several chunk plays of 7 to 10 yards and fought hard on his runs, which included two short touchdowns. Rex Burkhead was very involved in the run game as well, or Michel could have had even more scores. His second touchdown was actually a 4th down run from about the 10 yard line which was blocked well by the line once again. He will be the lead dog once again against the Rams in two weeks.

RB Rex Burkhead, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 41 - 2, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (4 targets)
Burkhead was very involved late in the game, including the game clinching touchdown and run prior. His role was sparse prior to the 4th quarter and overtime, but run blocking and tough running paved the way for critical scores. His touch count was inflated due to the sheer volume of Patriots plays, so he may not see this many touches again in the Super Bowl.

WR Julian Edelman, 93 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 96 - 0 (10 targets)
Edelman taketh, but Edelman certainly giveth. Beyond a couple boneheaded plays, Edelman was absolutely clutch once again, and is now one of the all-time leaders in most postseason receiving stats. His grabs in overtime were huge plays in tough spots, and both came on 3rd and long situations. However, he did almost cost the Patriots on a couple plays. One was a punt 'muff' that Edelman went for on a bounce, but on replay, it avoided his fingertips by about an inch. The Chiefs would have recovered otherwise and the game would have totally turned around. Edelman also had a pass go off his fingertips and into a defender's hands, causing an interception. Still, in 1 on 1 situations, Edelman was a go-to in his usual middle of the field. He will be the core piece of the game against the Rams for the Pats.

WR Chris Hogan, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (7 targets)
Once again seeing heavy snaps, Chris Hogan made a few grabs but none bigger than his amazing one handed catch on 3rd down with the Pats trailing in the 4th quarter. Hogan speared a pass with one hand then pinned it against himself on a narrow catch. It's been a down year for Hogan and his separation isn't as good as it once was, but he is blocking well and his number will be called upon in the Super Bowl.

WR Phillip Dorsett, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 29 - 1 (3 targets)
He wasn't very involved in the game plan with Gronk and Edelman seeing heavy targets, but Phillip Dorsett's one catch was a crucial deep touchdown. Dorsett caught the ball in his lap, but he was covered well and the catch took immense concentration. As per usual, he didn't play as much as Edelman and Hogan, but he will still be important as an option on passing plays.

TE Rob Gronkowski, 97 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 79 - 0 (11 targets)
It's been a down year for Gronk, but for at least one game, he looked like his dominant self. His biggest catch was on a 3rd and 5 in overtime on a play that apparently wasn't even in the playbook prior to the morning of the game, highlighting the mind-meld between QB and TE. Gronk also had a couple catches with decent RAC, which is something we haven't seen as much of this year. He's healthy for the Super Bowl, which is all the Pats can ask for right now.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 31 - 295 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 11 - 0
Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing two times for 11 yards. The difference in this game was the fact that the Patriots shut down Mahomes and the Chiefs offense in the first half. Kansas City generated only 65 total yards by the end of the second quarter and trailed the Patriots 14-0, which proved to be one touchdown too many. In the second half, Mahomes came out firing, and it was even more impressive that Hill and Kelce combined for only four catches, proving once again that Mahomes is not just a distributor, but capable of creating plays on his own and throwing his receivers open. Mahomes first touchdown pass came early in the third quarter with the Chiefs facing a first and ten from the Patriots 12 yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and was looking only one place the entire play, and that was to Kelce running a slant out of the right slot position. Kelce got inside position on his man and drifted towards the center of the field, which gave Mahomes an easy window to zip in the touchdown pass, cutting the New England lead to 14-7 after only two minutes of play in the third quarter. Mahomes struck again at the end of the third quarter, completing a 33 yard pass to Williams, which set up his second touchdown pass. With the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Patriots one yard line, Mahomes took the snap under center and immediately rolled out to his right, where Williams was running hard to the right side of the end zone. Mahomes waited as long as he could for Williams to clear his man and then threw a bullet to his running back, who was able to just come down with the catch in-bounds. Mahomes final touchdown pass of the season came with the Chiefs facing a second and ten from the Patriots 23 yard line. Mahomes took the snap in shotgun and play-action faked to Williams who came across the formation from the right side. Mahomes faded to his left before throwing a lobbed screen pass to Williams on the right side. The play was designed perfectly, and Williams was able to cover the 23 yards untouched on his way to the endzone.

RB Damien Williams, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 30 - 1, Rec: 5 - 66 - 2 (8 targets)
Damien Williams rushed 10 times for 30 yards and a touchdown, while also catching five passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Williams continued to play inspired football throughout the postseason, finishing with four total touchdowns in two playoff games and proving that he deserves the first crack at leading the Chiefs backfield in 2019. While the Patriots did a good job of shutting down Williams in the run game (he averaged 5.1 yards per carry this season), this was more of a case of the Chiefs not putting him in advantageous running situations. When Kansas City started to move the ball with ease in the second half, Williams came up big with three touchdowns. Williams first touchdown came with the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Patriots one yard line. Mahomes took the snap under center and immediately rolled out to his right, where Williams was running hard to the right side of the end zone. Mahomes waited as long as he could for Williams to clear his man and then threw a tight pass to Williams, who made a really nice catch, getting both of his feet in bounds for the touchdown. Williams next touchdown came with the Chiefs facing a second and ten from the Patriots 23 yard line. Mahomes took the snap in shotgun and play-action faked to Williams who came across the formation from the right side. Mahomes faded to his left before throwing a lobbed screen pass to Williams on the right side. The play was designed perfectly, and Williams was able to cover the 23 yards untouched on his way to the endzone. Williams final touchdown came right before the two minute warning in the fourth quarter, where he rushed right up the gut for a two yard score that put the Chiefs up 27-24.

WR Sammy Watkins, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 114 - 0 (8 targets)
Sammy Watkins caught four passes for 114 yards on eight targets in the Chiefs loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Watkins had an up and down year with the Chiefs, as he produced very well when he was on the field, but he played only 10 games total as a Chief, and only one regular season game after week 10. Watkins was a big reason why the Chiefs were able to move the ball in the second half, as he set up Kelce’s touchdown with a 54 yard reception that put the Chiefs on the Patriots 12 yard line. Next, Watkins came up big on a third and three that extended the Chiefs drive on their second touchdown of the third quarter. Then Watkins drew a pass interference penalty for 27 yards, and then caught a 38 yard pass that moved the Chiefs from their own 37 yard line down to the Patriots two yard line in two plays. Those plays set up Williams two yard touchdown run that put the Chiefs up late in the fourth quarter. The 114 receiving yards was the most on the season for Watkins, but this performance also offered a glimpse into how dangerous the Chiefs offense can be when they have that legitimate threat after Kelce and Hill. This game would not have been close if not for Watkins coming up big, and he did so at the most important times for the Kansas City offense.

WR Tyreek Hill, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 42 - 0 (3 targets)
Tyreek Hill caught one pass on three targets for 42 yards in the Chiefs loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. The Patriots have long been one of the best defenses in terms of limiting their opponents’ strengths, and they did something that no one else had been able to do this year, and that was shut down both Hill and Kelce. Hill was constantly facing double teams and the Patriots were not even letting him see open looks in the short passing game. Hill’s only catch of the day came on a 42 yard reception where he ran a double move from the outside right hash mark. Hill faked like he was running a deep post to the middle of the field and then cut back towards the sideline. Mahomes underthrew Hill, despite him being wide open, or the play may have gone for a touchdown if Hill was able to get moving in the open field.

TE Travis Kelce, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 1 (5 targets)
Travis Kelce caught three passes for 23 yards and a touchdown on five targets against the Patriots on Sunday. This was a tough loss for the Chiefs, but it has to be even more devastating for Kelce, as he came into this game hearing all about how the Patriots have shut him down in their previous matchups. That did not change either, as Kelce totaled only 23 yards on five targets and outside of his touchdown catch, made almost no impact in this game. Sure, he shaded coverage away from Watkins on some of the receiver’s long receptions, but Kelce is used to imposing his will and being a decoy is beneath the NFL’s best tight end. Kelce’s touchdown catch came early in the third quarter with the Chiefs facing a first and 10 from the Patriots 12 yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and was looking only one place the entire play, and that was to Kelce running a slant out of the right slot position. Kelce did a good job of immediately gaining inside position on his man and then cutting hard to the middle of the field. Once he had inside position, his big body and wide catch radius gave Mahomes a massive target to throw to, and that is a pass and catch that these two will make every single time it is available to them. The play went for an easy 12 yard touchdown and put the Chiefs on the board for the first time in this game.