Defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots snapped Kansas City’s 11-game win streak to reach the AFC Championship game for the fifth successive season.
Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to power the Patriots past the visiting Chiefs 27-20. Brady joined 1970s Oakland Raiders star Kenny Stabler as one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history to take their teams to five consecutive conference championship games.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s hard to do,” Brady said. “You’ve got to grind throughout the entire year. There’s only four teams playing next weekend and we’re one of them.”
Four-time NFL champion Brady completed 28-of-42 passes for 302 yards, his ninth career playoff 300-yard passing game, matching Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.
Rob Gronkowski’s two touchdown catches gave him eight for his playoff career, the most of any tight end in NFL history.
“The chemistry was clicking,” Gronkowski said. Andy Reid came under pressure after the game but offered little explanation for the poor time management that cost his side.
The Chiefs trailed 27-13 and had a first-and-goal at the New England 1-yard line with 2:33 left and had all their timeouts remaining, but instead of throwing a pass that would stop the clock if it went incomplete, the Chiefs were stopped for a 1-yard loss on a running play.
“I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about,’’ Reid said when asked about the issue. Kansas City gunslinger Alex Smith added: “You’re right there at the doorstep. You’re at the 1-yard line. It’s a fine line, and you’re trying to punch it in. If you get stopped the clock is running. Throwing it has the benefit of stopping the clock.’’
They closed to within seven points with 73 seconds remaining but Gronkowski recovered Kansas’ onside kick attempt and the Patriots ran the final seconds off the clock.
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