×

Reservation Confirmed for Atlanta

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (13) makes a touchdown reception against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams against New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (13) spikes the ball as he celebrates a touchdown reception during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (59) runs against New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) after intercepting a pass during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) runs to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Championship NFL football game in overtime, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Chiefs fans during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) reaches for the ball against Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)



Sunday, January 20, 2019

Kansas City, Mo. — The New England Patriots are headed to their third straight Super Bowl, once more thanks to Tom Brady’s brilliance.

The five-time NFL champion guided the Patriots 75 yards after winning the overtime coin toss, and backup Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard TD lifted New England past Kansas City, 37-31, for the AFC championship Sunday night.

The drive, during which New England had three third-down conversions, against an exhausted defense was reminiscent of when the Patriots beat Atlanta in the only Super Bowl to go to OT two years ago.

“Overtime, on the road against a great team,” Brady said. “They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don’t know, man, I’m tired. That was a hell of a game.”

New England (13-5) benefited from two critical replay reviews and made its ninth Super Bowl with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach.

“This is crazy,” Brady said. “What a game.”

Awaiting them in Atlanta are the Los Angeles Rams, who won, 26-23, in overtime in New Orleans for the NFC championship. The Rams last made the Super Bowl in 2002 while based in St. Louis, losing to the Patriots.

It’s the first time both conference title games went to OT. The last time both visitors won conference championship matches was 2012.

Several times, the Patriots appeared to have it won, only to see Kansas City (13-5) come back in spectacular fashion.

Brady, at 41 already the oldest quarterback to have played in a Super Bowl, drove New England 65 yards in 1:24 to get Burkhead’s go-ahead 4-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left in regulation. That was enough, though, for his far younger counterpart, the 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes, to take the Chiefs 48 yards to Harrison Butker’s 39-yard field goal with 8 seconds left to force overtime.

It was a sizzling offensive showing in the fourth quarter after defense had been in charge most of the way. Indeed, the Chiefs were blanked in the opening half for the first time all season.

And they never saw the ball in overtime, which along with the two replay decisions might call into play NFL rules and officiating.

No matter to New England, which became the third franchise to reach three Super Bowls in a row. And Belichick now has 30 postseason victories, more than Bill Walsh and Don Shula combined. That Hall of Fame coaching duo also won five Super Bowls; Belichick shoots for No. 6 in two weeks.

Reid’s decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss proved unwise as New England had 22 plays in the opening period, and Kansas City had seven. Then, the Chiefs lost the more important toss before overtime. Less than five minutes later, they were headed to the offseason.

The Chiefs had never before hosted an AFC championship game. In fact, the last time they hoisted the trophy that now bears the name of their founder, the late Lamar Hunt, it was Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson who then led them to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth Super Bowl.

But with their new star quarterback leading one of the league’s flashiest offenses, this was supposed to be the year Kansas City finally ended its 49-year drought. It was supposed to be the year coach Andy Reid finally exorcised his postseason demons and made it back to the Super Bowl.

Instead of a year of change, it was a year of the same.