Sun Dec 8 8:22pm ET
By KYLE HIGHTOWER
AP Sports Writer
Players: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, LeSean McCoy, Travis Kelce, Spencer Ware, James White, Phillip Dorsett, Sammy Watkins, Damien Williams, Harrison Butker, Darrel Williams, Patrick Mahomes, Jakobi Meyers, N'Keal Harry, Mecole Hardman
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, center, carries the ball in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, center, argues a call in the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden dives for the goal line and a touchdown in front of Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner, left, blocks a punt by Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lands on the turf after being sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce carries the ball after catching a pass in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce carries the ball after catching a pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, left, celebrates his touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman runs for a touchdown after making a catch against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman celebrates his touchdown catch against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Bashaud Breeland, center, intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots tight end Matt LaCosse in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. left, passes under pressure from New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower, right, in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Kansas City clinched the AFC West when Bashaud Breeland knocked away Tom Brady's fourth-down pass attempt to Julian Edelman in the end zone Sunday.
The Chiefs survived a series of mistakes and questionable calls by the officials to hold off the New England Patriots 23-16 on Sunday.
Combined with Oakland's loss to Tennessee, the Chiefs (9-4) took their division. And the loss ended the Patriots' 21-game home win streak in the regular season and playoffs, which was tied for the longest in team history. It also was the third-longest string in NFL history.
New England (10-3) has lost two in a row.
Patrick Mahomes was 26 of 40 for 283 yards, a touchdown and interception. Travis Kelce added a 10-yard TD run. Tom Brady was under pressure all night and finished 19 of 36 for 169 yards, a touchdown and interception.
Trailing 23-16, New England got the ball back on their 32 with 5:04 to play. The Patriots immediately gained 35 yards on a pass from halfback James White to Jakobi Meyers to get into Kansas City territory. Officials appeared to miss a clear pass interference call on a deep pass to Phillip Dorsett and the Chiefs forced a fourth-and-6 at the 29.
But the 42-year-old Brady got free and scrambled 17 yards for a first down.
The Patriots couldn't get into the end zone, however, losing the rematch of January's AFC title game.
The Chiefs led 23-7 in the third quarter before they committed a series of mistakes that helped the Patriots close the gap.
First, Patriot special-teamer Nate Ebner blocked Dustin Colquitt's punt, which rolled out of bounds at the Chiefs 19. It set up a 10-yard run by Brandon Bolden that made it 23-13, but White was stopped short on his 2-point conversion run attempt.
The Chiefs gave the Patriots another opportunity late in the third quarter. Travis Kelce caught a pass and was hit Devin McCourty, forcing a fumble and recovery by Stephon Gilmore, who had a clear path the the end zone. The play was blown dead, though, with Kelce ruled down by contact.
It prompted an immediate challenge by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which resulted in the call being overturned and the ball awarded to New England.
The Patriots quickly drove to the Kansas City 15 and Brady found N'Keal Harry with a short pass. Harry weaved through multiple defenders and appeared to stretch the ball over pylon.
Yet he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at the 3. Brady was sacked three plays later and the Patriots kicked a field goal to close within 23-16.
On Kansas City's next possession, receiver Sammy Watkins and Gilmore got tangled up, wrestled each other to the ground and then had to be separated.
The Chiefs were without two of their leading rushers, Damien Williams (rib injury) and Darrel Williams (placed on injured reserve Thursday with a hamstring injury). It left the rushing duties primarily in the hands of LeSean McCoy, with support from Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware.
They didn't get much traction in the run game other than from McCoy, who finished with 11 rushes for 39 yards. But after a slow start, Kansas City's receivers were able to find space and passing lanes for Mahomes.
One notable example came early in the second quarter. Mecole Hardman got behind Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones and Mahomes withstood pressure to deliver a deep pass off his back foot for a 48-yard touchdown to put the Chiefs in front 10-7.
Brady was intercepted by Breeland on the first play of the Patriots' ensuing drive and Kansas City went right back to work.
Taking over on New England's 39, Mahomes found Kelce in the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain to get the Chiefs inside the 5. Two plays later Kelce took a direct snap and ran it in for a 4-yard TD.
New England used Gilmore to cover Kelce in their two previous meetings, including the AFC title game in which Kelce was largely ineffective. This time he was able to get open for most of the game as the Patriots' safeties drew his primary coverage responsibilities.
Kansas City drove inside New England's 15 just before the half, but settled for a 31-yard Harrison Butker field goal that made it 20-7.
The Patriots received the game's opening kickoff and needed just five plays to drive 83 yards and take 7-0 lead on a 37-yard flea-flicker from Brady to Edelman. The series was aided by a pair of third-down pass interference penalties called on Chiefs cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Breeland.
Kansas City's first offensive drive lasted just three plays before Mahomes was picked off by J.C. Jackson.
Chiefs: LG Andrew Wiley left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
Patriots: Harry left in the fourth quarter with a hip injury.
Ebner's punt block in the third quarter was the Patriots fourth of 2019, setting a franchise record for a season. With one more they will tie the 1990 Chiefs for the most blocked punts in a season in NFL history
The Kansas City Chiefs needed a police escort to get their equipment to Foxborough, Massachusetts, in time for kickoff.
Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews confirmed that some of the gear was sent to the wrong place and had to be rushed to the stadium. It arrived about two hours before kickoff. The Massachusetts State Police tweeted that they helped the equipment get to the stadium from Logan Airport.
Chiefs: host Broncos next Sunday.
Patriots: visit Bengals next Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel combined for just three catches for 65 yards in the NFC Championship victory against the Green Bay Packers. Samuel added two rushes for 43 yards. The Niners opened up the game with a dominant running attack and a 27-0 lead, resulting in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes. While the stat sheet was underwhelming, both aerial playmakers made the most of their opportunities, picking up chunk gains on each touch. With the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs offense on deck, the Niners will conceivably need to throw the ball more in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders failed to record a catch in the NFC Championship blowout win against the Green Bay Packers. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes, Sanders saw only a single target. The clear third option in a low-volume passing game behind standout rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, Sanders has just two catches in the playoffs. Hell likely be tasked with more work in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert exploded for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. He also caught two passes for six yards. Mostert was unstoppable on Sunday, converting three rushing scores of 36, nine and 18 in the first half. He capped his evening with a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The fifth-year breakout player was the star in the Niners easy 37-20 victory and will again lead the backfield into the Super Bowl in two weeks against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed just six of eight passes for 77 yards and no scores in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Garoppolo had little to do but watch running back Raheem Mostert annihilate the Packers rush defense for 220 yards and four scores. With two consecutive easy victories in the playoffs, Jimmy G has attempted just 27 passes this postseason. Sledding will surely get tougher in the Super Bowl against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers on Sunday. Coleman had his shoulder popped back into place and Shanahan thinks that Coleman has a chance to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old will be able to play against Kansas City. He ran the ball six times for 21 yards before his injury and had a season-high 22 totes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Divisional win over the Vikings. Even if Coleman plays, he'll be second fiddle to Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four scores against Green Bay. Matt Breida would spell Mostert in the backfield if Coleman doesn't gain clearance.
There has been buzz that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a possible landing spot for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who will become a free agent in March. After his worst season since 2007, the aging gunslinger is unlikely to re-sign with the Bolts, and he recently moved his family from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his extended family in Alabama. The 38-year-old might have a year or two left of football in him if he continues to play, but the 2019 season showed that he's near the end of the line. Rivers would only be an option for Tampa if they choose not to bring Jameis Winston back for at least another season after he led all of football in passing yards last season.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.
The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has a 'good chance' to be available for the Super Bowl, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (thumb) suffered a broken thumb during the team's NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Alexander is hopeful he won't need to undergo surgery.
The Green Bay Packers Defense recorded one sack and allowed 37 points in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers steamrolled past Green Bay's unit for 285 rushing yards and four rushing scores. To make matters worse, they couldn't generate much pressure or any turnovers. Despite the disappointing end, the Packers defense was much improved from last year, ranking 15th in sacks with 41 as well as third in interceptions with 17. They may not be among the top defenses drafted in 2020, though they should be on every fantasy managers' radar.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham caught four of five targets for 59 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Graham was a big disappointment this season in a year filled with disappointing tight ends. The 33-year-old put up the lowest numbers since his rookie season and never really put together a good stretch of play until very recently. Graham has one year left on his contract worth about 7.5 million dollars. Given how much of a bust he was, perhaps Green Bay cuts ties with him and goes younger at the position in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of three targets for eight yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There were big expectations for Allison heading into 2019 in both the real and fantasy football worlds. Unfortunately for him, he lived up to neither, failing to eclipse 50 receiving yards in all but one game all year. Green Bay, who is in desperate need of another receiver behind Davante Adams, will have a decision to make about the 25-year-old, who is an unrestricted free agent. It's hard to see Allison being back in Green Bay in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three of four targets for 36 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Lazard may not have made much noise in the two playoff games but flashed some potential in the regular season, including his first career 100-yard game. Rodgers started to develop a little chemistry with the 6-foot-4 wideout late in the season, as he looked his way 17 times in the last two contests. It would be surprising if Lazard were the number-two receiver for the Packers next year, though it still makes sense for them to bring him back in some capacity. Lazard has some sleeper potential if he's catching passes from Rodgers in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' 87 passing touchdowns in his first 35 games, including playoffs, are the most in NFL history. His 11 passing touchdowns and 142 pass attempts without an interception to begin his playoff career are both the most on record, and he is one of just two players to have at least 250 passing yards, three or more passing touchdowns and at least 50 rushing yards in multiple career playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine of 10 targets for 138 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adams operated as Rodgers' safety blanket yet again, capturing 79 more receiving yards than the Packers' next leading receiver. When healthy, this is what the 26-year-old did all year, as he compiled double-digit targets in all but four games, including the playoffs. Despite missing five games, Adams still almost put up a 1000-year season. It would behoove Green Bay to put together a stronger receiver group behind the star receiver. Even if they don't, a healthy Adams should be back in the discussion as an elite fantasy wideout in 2020.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams picked up just six rushing yards on three carries and caught two passes for one receiving yard in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Williams had a disappointing end to his season, as he failed to register at least 40 rushing yards in his last three games after eclipsing the mark in his previous three. The 24-year-old did show flashes at times of being the perfect complement to Aaron Jones. Still, it will be interesting to see if Green Bay hands the reins to Jones next year or continues to spell him with Williams. For now, consider Williams more of a handcuff option than a complement heading into 2020.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed six of his eight passes for 77 yards in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19. RB Raheem Mostert rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns and caught two passes for six yards, and RB Tevin Coleman rushed six times for 21 yards. WR Deebo Samuel caught two passes for 46 yards and rushed twice for 43 yards, TE George Kittle caught his only target for 19 yards, and WR Emmanuel Sanders was held without a catch on one target. DE Joey Bosa and DL Arik Armstead both recorded a sack.