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The Patriots Did It Again

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The Patriots Did It Again

DAVID CAIRES, WRITER

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Everyone said they were done three weeks into the season. Belichick’ coaching decisions continued to be questioned after the loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl 52. Sports analysts such as Max Kellerman said that Tom Brady is going to fall off a cliff this year at age 41. Boston Radio hosts claimed that this team was not as good as some of the ones throughout the dynasty.

After watching the Patriots defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 37-31 in overtime from Arrowhead Stadium Sunday Night, all I can say is: wow.  I personally believed that we were going to win the game, but as it was progressing, I had my doubts.

I cannot believe that I am typing these words: The New England Patriots are heading back to the Superbowl for the 3rd straight year and the 4th time in the last five seasons. Incredible.

It seems as if everything throughout the regular season was building up to this monstrous postseason. After starting 1-2, the Patriots then rattled off a nice six game winning streak where they beat playoff teams such as the Colts, Bears, and Chiefs in tightly contested games.

After losing to the Titans in a blowout, the Patriots bounced back to beat the Jets and Vikings to move to 9-3.

It then seemed as if the Patriots were finally going to conquer their demons and defeat the Dolphins in Miami, but the infamous “Miracle in Miami” play happened where Kenyan Drake scored a 69-yard touchdown off of a lateral to stun the Patriots 34-33 as time expired.

The Patriots didn’t recover from that play in the following week, either, as the Steelers outlasted them by earning a 17-10 win in a sloppy game from Heinz Field. It was the first time since 2002 that the Patriots had lost back to back games in December.

At 9-5 the Patriots needed to really step it up in the last two weeks of the season. If they wanted to get that coveted first round bye in the playoffs, then their only option would be to win and hope for some help from another team.

Despite not playing their best, the Patriots did bounce back against the Bills in week 16 by beating them 24-12 at Gillette Stadium. New England then got some help from their good friends the Eagles when fan favorite Nick Foles orchestrated a game-winning drive as time nearly expired to defeat the Houston Texans 32-30. With the Patriots win and the Texans loss, the Patriots moved back into the two seed in the AFC and the Texans slipped down into the third seed and no longer being in a position to get a first round bye week.

The final match of the regular season saw the Patriots give a complete, 60 minute effort, as Tom Brady threw 4 touchdowns and the defense dominated en route to a 38-3 defeat over the New York Jets.

At 11-5, the Patriots did finish the season off on a good note, but they had their fewest wins since 2009 and they hadn’t really had a great game until the last match of the season.

Tom Brady still had a good year, as he finished with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Rob Gronkowski did not have a great season, as he only finished with three touchdowns and did not look like his normal self on the field at times.

The Patriots knew that they were going to need to play their best football of the season if they wanted to make it to another Superbowl, but having the bye week was great as it gave players a chance to take it easy and nurse their lingering injuries.

When the Los Angeles Chargers came into town after beating the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, the Patriots were faced with a tall order. Philip Rivers was playing some of the best football of his life, and the Chargers defense was considered by many to be the best in the NFL. The Chargers didn’t care about the Patriots dynasty, and Philip Rivers let that be known to the press before the game commenced.

The Patriots really didn’t care for the Chargers game plan either, as they scored four touchdowns on their first 4 offensive drives (a franchise record) and routed the Los Angeles Chargers 41-28 in a game that was practically over at halftime. Sony Michel and the running game dominated, and Brady had a nice touchdown pass to wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to put the icing on the cake.

No one saw this coming, and with the win, the Patriots moved on to Kansas City to face Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to determine who would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Still, not everyone was convinced that the Patriots could beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. After all, they were 3-5 in road matchups this season and the Patriots had lost their last three AFC Championship Games that were away from Foxborough.

Kansas City was 3-Point favorites heading into the matchup over New England. It was the first time since 2014 that the Patriots were underdogs in a game.

Lightning ended up striking twice as the Patriots started the game again with Sony Michel scoring a touchdown to go up 7-0 in a drive that took more than 8 minutes.

In the second quarter, Tom Brady threw an interception from the 1-yard line, and momentum was on the Chiefs’ side. However, the Patriots defense stopped Mahomes and the Chiefs offense from doing anything, so they punted the ball back to the Patriots.

Towards the end of the first half, Brady connected with Phillip Dorsett on a 29 yard touchdown pass to send the Patriots into halftime leading 14-0 from Arrowhead Stadium.

Coach Bill Belichick did an excellent job in the first half by concocting a game plan to have the Patriots defense stop the Chiefs and Tom Brady offense use up lots of clock to keep Patrick Mahomes off of the field.

In the second half, it became much more of a back and forth battle. The Chiefs were making up some ground, as they put two touchdowns on the board to make it a 17-14 Patriots lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.

After this, chaos ensued where the Patriots failed to convert on 4th and inches as Rex Burkhead was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on the rushing attempt.

After the Chiefs couldn’t get anything going with the ball, they punted it back to the Patriots again, and the punt returner Julian Edelman looked to field the ball off of a bounce.

The ball trickled right past Edelman, and everyone thought that he had muffed the punt. The Chiefs’ Derek Kiefer picked up the ball and the stadium went wild, as everyone was under the impression that the Chiefs were going to take over.

However, upon further review, the ball never touched Edelman, as it didn’t even graze his thumb or arm on the way by. Thus, the call was overturned by the referees and the Patriots got the ball back.

This call wasn’t as monumental as initially thought, however, as Daniel Sorensen intercepted Brady’s pass off of a deflection from Julian Edelman’s fingertips. The Chiefs got the ball back and good field position and they went on to take their first lead off of a Mahomes touchdown pass to Damien Williams with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter.

For the first time all night, the Patriots offense was faced with a little pressure now being down by 4. I don’t know if you have learned by now, but pressure doesn’t phase Patriots’ Quarterback Tom Brady. In fact, he welcomes it.

On a huge third down and 8 play, Brady connected with Chris Hogan who made a phenomenal one handed catch to keep the drive alive.

This drive was capped off with the Patriots scoring a touchdown by way of a 10 yard run from Sony Michel. On 4th and inches this time, they did not fail, and the Patriots had the lead 24-21 with just over 3 and half minutes left.

The madness did not stop here, as Mahomes connected with Sammy Watkins on a huge play that got the Chiefs all the way down to the 2-yard line. One play later, Damian Williams scored a touchdown on a rushing attempt, and the Chiefs had the ball back 28-24 with the two-minute warning approaching.

With the season on the line, Brady needed to get the offense into the end zone if they wanted to punch their ticket to Atlanta in two weeks. The future hall of famer did not mess around to start this huge drive, as he connected on some big passes to his receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan.

Later in the drive, the Patriots were facing a third down and 10 situation. Brady threw it to Rob Gronkowski on a checkdown route, hoping that he would be able to at least get close to the marker, as it was “four down territory” regardless. It seemed as if that was going to happen, but Gronkowski could not corral the ball, and it hit off of his hands and into the possession of Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward.

For the moment, Tom Brady had thrown his third interception of the night, and it gave the Chiefs a big chance to put an end to this ballgame.

However, this play was also reversed as it was determined that Chiefs Linebacker Dee Ford was offsides before the snap. The interception was negated, and the Patriots were given another chance from the football gods.

After this snafu, Rob Gronkowski was able to catch a ball from Tom Brady over Chiefs star safety Eric Berry on a third and five play.

This huge moment put the Patriots in a “goal to go” situation with under a minute remaining. New England was able to avoid fourth down, as they were now in a prime position to score and take the lead once again.

Brady and the offense got to the line with just over 40 seconds remaining, and four yards standing between them and the end zone. On the first play after the Chiefs used a timeout, Rex Burkhead got the ball out of the backfield and ran it in for a touchdown to give the Patriots the lead back, 31-28 with only 39 seconds remaining.

Tom Brady proved to be the hero yet again, and it looked as if this Patriots team was going to pull off the upset over the Kansas City Chiefs and walk out of Arrowhead Stadium with the Lamar Hunt trophy in their possession.

With just one timeout and 32 seconds left, the odds were stacked against the Chiefs and their 23 year old young phenom quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes had minimal playoff experience, as he was unfamiliar with how to tolerate the high pressure moments during the final parts of the game.

Mahomes was able to work his magic, as he got the Chiefs in range to tie the match with a field goal as almost no time remained in regulation. Mahomes was able to extend plays and connect on some deep throws. It especially helped on one play that Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers jumped offsides.

With the game heading to overtime, the coin toss was almost as important as ever. Whichever team won the coin toss would undoubtedly choose to receive the ball. The team that elected to receive the football would also have a great chance of going on to win the game, due to how both offenses were firing on all cylinders after a total of 38 points were scored in the 4th quarter alone.

Patriots captain Matthew Slater called heads as the representatives from both teams met at mid field. The coin landed on heads, and the Patriots chose to receive. Now, Brady was given a chance to end the game once and for all and silence his critics for the one millionth time.

The drive by the offense was definitely not flawless, as the Chiefs defense put up a good fight against New England. Facing multiple third down and long situations, Brady was able to find Edelman multiple times throughout the overtime period for clutch conversions.

Edelman absorbed the contact from the Chiefs’ defenders and hung on to the ball, which allowed the “chains to keep moving.”

Brady also found tight end Rob Gronkowski on a third down and 10 play later in the drive to keep the Patriots drive going.

Had they not converted at this point, New England would have been in a prime position to kick a field goal to give them the lead, but that wouldn’t have ended the game completely.

Three plays later, Rex Burkhead punched it in from two yards out on another rushing touchdown, his second of the game.

The game was over, and the Patriots players immediately mobbed the field after clinching their third straight Super Bowl berth, this time in enemy territory.

A jubilant Tom Brady met Chris Hogan at midfield after the game, and they both talked about how everyone said that they were too old and too slow. These words seemed to have affected them, but ultimately it motivated them to get their biggest win of the season to date.

So a little bit after 10 p.m. eastern on Sunday, January 21st is when the Super Bowl 53 matchup was officially set: Patriots vs Rams.

This is a rematch of Super Bowl 36 in 2001, where a then 24 year old Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the “Greatest Show on Turf” Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl History.

Former Patriots and current Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri drilled the field goal to win the game as time expired. That kick is one of Vinatieri’s many clutch moments throughout his 23 year long career.

The game will definitely be exciting to watch. The Patriots will be looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Eagles in the Super Bowl and add a sixth Lombardi Trophy to the Hall of Fame at Patriot Place.

The Rams will be looking get revenge on the Patriots for what happened in Super Bowl 36 and bring a football championship to the city of Los Angeles for the first time in 68 years.

Nonetheless, it has been very endearing to watch this New England Patriots team and how they have grown so much since late July of 2017.

This is definitely not the most “stacked” team that the Patriots have ever produced, as there are not too many “big ticket” names on the roster outside of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, and Dont’a Hightower.

Although the Patriots have proved over the years that you don’t need immense talent to be successful in the National Football League. What you really need is a group of players willing to commit to a scheme and stay disciplined.

This season Patriots have experienced just as much (if not more) highs and lows then the other teams in years’ past. All the anxiety and excitement from September to now has led us to watch our team play on the biggest stage in sports for the third straight year, and regardless of the end result, that is truly going to be fun to watch.

Us Patriots fans are truly spoiled, and we are going to miss when the Brady/Belichick/Kraft era comes to an end.

 

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The Patriots Did It Again