For the fourth season in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC West champions.
The Chiefs held off the New England Patriots 23-16 on Sunday in Patrick Mahomes’ first win over Tom Brady in three tries. The Oakland Raiders’ loss to the Tennessee Titans clinched the division title.
The Patriots scored on the game’s initial drive. The defense forced two third downs, but pass interference calls on cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward gave the Patriots first downs. After Ward’s penalty, Tom Brady and James White ran a flea flicker, and Brady threw 37 yards down the field to wide receiver Julian Edelman for the touchdown.
With the Patriots up 7-3, Chiefs center Austin Reiter was called for an illegal blindside block. On second-and-25, rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman came free, and Mahomes found him down the field for a 48-yard touchdown. The Chiefs extended their lead to 17-7 when Travis Kelce received a direct snap, faked a handoff to Tyreek Hill and dashed 4 yards for the touchdown.
The Chiefs’ first points of the game had come on a 48-yard field goal by Harrison Butker; he added a 31-yarder at the end of the first half and a 41-yard field goal at the beginning of the third quarter. Defensive end Tanoh Kpassgnon blocked a Patriots field goal in the game.
Things became interesting in the third quarter when the Chiefs, who were leading by 23-7, had a punt blocked. The Patriots narrowed the game to 23-13 two plays later when running back Brandon Bolden ran the ball 10 yards for a touchdown. Brady handed the ball off to James White on the two-point conversion attempt, but he was stuffed at the line.
On the next possession, Patriots safety Devin McCourty forced tight end Travis Kelce to fumble the football as he was tackled to the ground. The referees blew the play dead, but Bill Belichick challenged and the play was reversed. The Patriots had the football to start the fourth quarter.
Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller was called for defensive pass interference, costing the Chiefs 24 yards and bringing New England to the Kansas City 15. Referees bailed the Chiefs out when wide receiver N’Keal Harry should have had a touchdown catch, but because the Patriots were out of timeouts, they had to settle for a 29-yard field goal.
Trailing 23-16 — and facing fourth-and-6 with less than three minutes to go — Brady scrambled for 17 yards to keep New England alive. The Chiefs forced fourth down again, and Brady floated a ball to Edelman in the left of the end zone. But cornerback Bashaud Breeland knocked the ball down for the win.
Stats of note
- Patrick Mahomes: 26/40 for 283 yards, a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 83.6. Mahomes was sacked once.
- Tom Brady: 19/36 for 169, a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 63.3. Brady was sacked three times.
- Travis Kelce led Chiefs receivers with 66 yards on seven catches. Tyreek Hill had 62 yards on six receptions. Sammy Watkins had four catches for 50 yards. Mecole Hardman had only one catch for 48 yards and a touchdown.
- Julian Edelamn led all Patriots receivers with 95 yards and a touchdown on 8 catches.
- Chiefs rushers combined for 75 yards on 29 carries for an average of 2.6 yards a carry
- Patriots rushers combined for 94 yards on 22 carries for an average of 4.3 yards per carry
This was not a pretty game, but Patrick Mahomes finally beat Tom Brady.
And after seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his first two games vs. New England (Week 6 2018 and the AFC title game), he more than deserved the win.
But it also might be time for some real talk: Mahomes’ numbers against the Patriots Sunday were not great. And though the Chiefs remain in fantastic position in the AFC, it is has little to do with Mahomes and the offense — at least lately.
The Chiefs’ possessions in the second half: Field goal, punt (blocked), fumble, punt, punt
We never thought we’d be here, but the offense is a problem — and Andy Reid has three weeks to figure it out. Meanwhile, the defense — the pass rush and the secondary — already look poised for the run.