Sun Jan 20 11:25pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes pauses during a news conference after the AFC Championship NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Patrick Mahomes struggled in the first half and dazzled in the second Sunday night.
Nobody knows how he might have fared in overtime.
The Chiefs' young All-Pro threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns against New England, almost all of it after the break, only to watch the extra session from the bench. The Patriots won the coin toss and never gave him a chance, scoring on the only possession they needed to escape with a 37-31 victory in the first AFC championship game ever played at Arrowhead Stadium.
''I thought if we got the chance we'd score,'' said Mahomes, who instead praised the Patriots' Tom Brady for converting a trio of third-and-10s to give Rex Burkhead a chance to score the winning TD.
''He had a great drive,'' Mahomes said. ''Big moments, guys made big catches for him.''
Mahomes had plenty of big moments in his own right.
After a dismal first half in which he was 4 of 8 for 65 yards and three sacks, Mahomes caught fire in the third quarter. He needed just four plays to find Travis Kelce for a touchdown that trimmed a 14-0 deficit in half, then kept slinging the ball in what became a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
The Patriots scored two touchdowns. The Chiefs managed three.
Mahomes was behind it all, shredding a Patriots defense that had played reasonably well down the stretch this season. He hit Damien Williams with a short TD flip to get within 17-14 early in the fourth quarter, then found his elusive running back again with a 23-yard completion that gave Kansas City its first lead at 21-17 with 7:45 remaining in the game.
''They blitzed about every down, played man coverage, and they were able to get home a little bit on some of their games,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. ''We made a few adjustments at halftime, should have done that earlier - that's my responsibility. But I'm proud of the way the guys battled back.''
But the Patriots kept battling, too.
Brady led them the other way, and Sony Michel scored from 10 yards on fourth down, only for the Chiefs' mop-haired QB to answer with a 38-yard pass to Sammy Watkins that set up Williams' TD run.
Back came the Patriots, who in their eighth consecutive conference championship game showed no sign of nerves. They caught a break when an interception was wiped out by an offside call, and Burkhead's TD run with 39 seconds left appeared to have given New England a 31-28 victory.
Then again, Mahomes long ago proved that 39 seconds can last an eternity.
He immediately found running back Spencer Ware for 21 yards, the only meaningful play the backup running back made all game. Then, Mahomes hit Demarcus Robinson for 39 yards to the Patriots 21 with 16 seconds left, giving the Chiefs - without any timeouts - one shot at the end zone.
Mahomes wound up throwing it away, and Harrison Butker's 39-yard field goal forced overtime.
By that point the Patriots knew full well the best way to stop Mahomes was to keep him on the bench. So their confidence no doubt soared when they won the coin toss for overtime, and Brady took advantage of the opportunity by finding Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski on their march downfield.
Mahomes could only look on as the Patriots ended his dream season.
''They challenged us,'' he said. ''They came up and played man defense. Not a lot of teams did that this year. The first half we struggled, we couldn't make much happen. The second half we were up to the challenge, we found ways to win one-on-one matchups.
''We gave everything we had,'' Mahomes said. ''They ended up making more plays at the end.''
New England Patriots running back James White caught four passes for 49 yards, including 23 rushing yards, in the team's 37-31 win over the Chiefs to advance to the Super Bowl. One week after White caught 15 passes, the veteran running back was targeted only six times in the passing game. White already has one Super Bowl MVP under his belt and has enjoyed a career season with 85 receptions and 12 total touchdowns. He will certainly have to share time in the backfield with teammates Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead but White will see plenty of action against the Rams on February 3.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel carried the ball 29 times for 113 yards with two touchdowns in the Patriots 37-31 victory over the Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl. The rookie running back was fantastic from the jump and the Patriots leaned on him to move the chains. Michel punched in a 1-yard score to get New England on the board and then sprinted untouched for a 10-yard score in the fourth quarter. Michel is hot at the right time and will have tons of sleeper potential as a possible Super Bowl MVP heading into the Patriots matchup against the Rams on February 3.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 79 yards in the Patriots 37-31 win over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Gronk was targeted a team-high 11 times and delivered some huge plays in the wild final minutes of the game. He was counted on to pick up some huge first downs, none more important than a big-time 25-yard catch to set up a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. Gronkowski has not looked like himself this season but with one game left, the Patriots will do all they can to unleash Gronk against the Rams in the Super Bowl on February 3.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 30 of 46 passes for 348 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Patriots thrilling AFC Championship victory over the Chiefs 37-31 in overtime. The Patriots offense got off to a slow start but the future Hall of Famer turned it on when it mattered the most. From the beginning of the fourth quarter, Brady nearly doubled his passing yards with some nearly perfect drives. When the chips were down, the Patriots put the ball in Brady's hands and delivered strike after strike as the team scored 20 points in the final quarter in addition to overtime. Brady will now play in his ninth Super Bowl on February 3, striving to win an all-time record sixth Super Bowl.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 96 yards in the Patriots 37-31 overtime win over the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Edelman was quiet for most of the game but was heavily targeted in the games final minutes, delivering clutch catch after catch. Edelman is clearly quarterback Tom Brady's preferred target in crunch time and the veteran receiver made some fantastic receptions in traffic. Edelman will be a top choice to lead the team in targets when the Patriots take on the Rams in the Super Bowl February 3.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas caught four passes for only 36 yards in the Saints 26-23 overtime loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Thomas was targeted seven times but disappointed for a player that caught 125 passes in the regular season. The Saints offense revolved mostly around teammate Alvin Kamara and Thomas was a non-factor. Despite the disappointing end to his season, Thomas will remain a top choice among wide receivers in fantasy heading into next season.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley's lack of involvement in the offense against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game was because of the 'flow' of the game, according to head coach Sean McVay.
Fantasy Spin: Gurley rushed just four times, and while he did drop a couple of passes, it is almost impossible to believe that the reason he spent most of the game on the sidelines wasn't related to the knee injury he suffered late in the year. If he is banged up, he will have two weeks to prepare before the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy finished with 10 tackles, including eight solo stops and a tackle for loss, and two sacks in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski caught six of his 11 targets for 79 yards in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: There have been rumblings that Gronkowski may hang it up after the season, but for now he has to prepare for another trip to the Super Bowl. He isn't the overwhelming force he was a few years ago, but he is still capable of putting up big numbers compared to a majority of the other tight ends in the league.
New England Patriots RB James White rushed six times for 23 yards and caught four of his six targets for 49 yards in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: It was a relatively quiet game for White, but you only need to look back one week at his 15-catch performance against the Los Angeles Chargers for a reminder of the type of production he is capable of providing.
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett caught one of his three targets for a 29-yard touchdown in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead rushed 12 times for 41 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime, and caught four passes for 23 yards in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Burkhead often takes a backseat to Sony Michel and James White, but he still is capable of delivering when his number is called and is up to three touchdowns this postseason.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman caught seven of his 10 targets for a team-high 96 yards in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman was particularly clutch on third downs throughout the game, and he has been Tom Brady's favorite target this postseason. Heading into the Super Bowl, Edelman has 16 catches on 23 targets for 247 yards in two games.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins caught four of his eight targets for 114 yards in a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Injuries remain a constant issue for Watkins, but he wasn't bad when he was on the field. He topped 60 yards in five of his final six games, including the playoffs, and even as the No. 3 option in the Kansas City passing attack, he will have WR3 upside in 2019.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady completed 30 of his 46 passes for 348 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: It wasn't the prettiest game of Brady's playoff career, and he had a third in interception that would have ended the game wiped out by a penalty. Still, he made enough big throws to put New England back in the Super Bowl, and he will try to add his incredible legacy in a couple of weeks.
New England Patriots RB Sony Michel rushed 29 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Michel has been a monster in the postseason, logging 53 carries for 242 yards and five scores in two games. He will try to add to those numbers in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce caught three of his five targets for 23 yards and a touchdown in a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: It marked just the second time all year and the first time since the season opener that Kelce failed to top 40 receiving yards. His season may have ended on a sour note, but that doesn't change the fact that Kelce may be the top fantasy option at his position heading into 2019.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams rushed 10 times for 30 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 66 yards and two scores in a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Williams didn't do much on the ground, but an early deficit had a lot to do with that. Still, he showcased his versatility once again, and since taking over as the starter, he has left no doubt that he can be a workhorse for the Kansas City backfield. Williams will have RB1 potential entering 2019.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of his 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns and rushed twice for 11 yards in a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: Mahomes led the Chiefs back from an early deficit, but he never saw the ball overtime. His impressive season doesn't end with a Super Bowl appearance, but it will put him in the conversation to be the first quarterback selected in drafts in 2019.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill caught one of his three targets for 42 yards in a 37-31 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 20.
Fantasy Spin: As the Patriots often do, they took away the best offensive weapon for their opponent. It was a quiet end to the best season of Hill's career, but he looks poised to deliver WR1 numbers for the foreseeable future as the top target for Patrick Mahomes.