KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Patriots haven't had to venture out of New England many times in the playoffs in the course of their dynasty atop the AFC, but quarterback Tom Brady spent enough time in the league to know what works on the road.
“You play on the road, it is going to be tough,” Brady said “What travels is running the ball and playing tough. That is good in any weather, any condition, any environment and any stadium. That was a big part of our game.”
The Patriots received the opening kickoff of the game, and proceeded to put on a master class in ball control offense. Brady marched his team down the field in 15 plays covering 80 yards and chewing up 8 minutes and 5 seconds off the clock.
“They were run the ball, run the ball, play action, run the ball, run the ball,” Chiefs defensive end Jones said. “I think the game plan was to hold on to the ball, keep our offense the field and the executed.”
If playing keep-away from the Chiefs offense was the Patriots' game plan, they ran it to perfection. Head coach Bill Belichick suggested it was more of a by-product of their strategy than necessarily the intended consequence.
“The thing is offensively is try to move the ball and score points,” Belichick said of his team's first-half effort. “We didn’t end up with as many points as we would have liked to. That is really the name of the game.”
The Patriots also received an unexpected gift near the end of the first half when the Chiefs presented them with a scoring opportunity. The started the drive at their own 10-yard line with 3:08 remaining in the half, and seemed content to run out the clock. They ran the ball on their first four plays before facing a third-and-4 on their own 27 with 50 seconds remaining. The Chiefs called timeout hoping to get the ball back.
“We were really looking to make sure we got out of the first half without them scoring,” Belichick said, “and we gave the screen pass to James (White) to get in scoring position and getting seven points before the half there, which are kind of bonus points, if you will.”
The third-down conversion to White and 30 yards on the screen pass set up Brady's 29-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett, giving the Patriots a 14-0 cushion at the half.
Even in the second half as the Chiefs mounted a comeback, the Patriots continued running the ball and using their short-passing game with brutal efficiency. New England finished the game running 94 offensive plays to 47 for Kansas City. They controlled the ball for 43 minutes and 59 seconds, compared to 20 minutes, 53 seconds for the Chiefs.
“The executed and we didn't at the end of the day,” linebacker Dee Ford said. “Execution trumps everything, especially in overtime being what's at stake this time of the year.”
The Patriots held on the ball thanks largely to converting 13-of-19 third-down attempts, including three third-and-10 situations in overtime.
“Brady got rid of the ball fast,” Jones said. “We didn't get to the quarterback like we usually do. So I put this on the defense. We've got to build from it, learn from it and we'll be better next year.”