The Chiefs were flying high after their beatdown of the Houston Texans on Wild Card Weekend. They played so well that many thought they could come into New England’s Gillette Stadium and beat the defending champs. But apparently someone forgot to tell the Patriots they were supposed to lose that game. The game was slow at first, but the Patriots eventually pulled away from the Chiefs. Now the Chiefs did make a run at the Patriots late. They got a late score to pull within seven points. But they could get no closer than that as the Patriots closed out the game 27-20. The Patriots now await the winner of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos as they go to their fifth consecutive AFC Championship game. And like usual, they handled their business like they were supposed to. The Chiefs lost and thus went their eleven-game winning streak along with their season. And unlike last game, the things that went their way against the Texans went the exact opposite way against the Patriots. And now they are going home. The Patriots went and took the game and the Chiefs just allowed it to happen.
The Chiefs had a couple drives where they were converting third downs in the first half. And those drives allowed them to get deep into Patriots territory. With how those two drives were going, it looked like the Chiefs were going to score a touchdown. But unfortunately, the Chiefs could not finish off the drives. They had to settle for two field goals for only six points. The Patriots defense was able to make the plays to save the touchdown instead of just allowing the Chiefs to score. One thing the Patriots did to limit the Chiefs in the redzone was take away their best weapon, tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs used bracket coverage on Kelce and forced Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to either make a perfect throw or look for someone else. Smith chose the later and there were no other people he could find. And thus the field goals that the Cardinals were left to take. On the other hand, the Patriots scored two touchdowns in the redzone. They drove the length of the field on two big drives as Brady methodically took them down the field. On their first drive, they finished it off by getting Gronkowski matched up one-on-one on the outside versus Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith. And even though Smith is a tall corner (listed at 6’3”), he was still small compared to Gronk. He ran right at Smith and just boxed him out like in basketball. As soon as he turned around, Brady had the football right there for a touchdown. And on the second touchdown drive, Brady scrambled uncharacteristically scrambled all the way to the one-yard line. And from there, he ran the quarterback sneak to score. That difference of a touchdown or a field goal is what separated the Chiefs from the Patriots in the first half. And unfortunately for the Chiefs, they were not able to take away Gronkowski like the Patriots were able to take away Kelce.
Another issue that happened with the Chiefs was clock management. The Chiefs were down by 14 with about 7:28 seconds left. The Chiefs had to get a stop to keep the game within striking distance. And the Chiefs got exactly what they needed and were able to save all their timeouts. The Patriots punted to the Chiefs and they got the ball back on their own 20 yard line with 6:29 seconds left. You would think the Chiefs would be wanting to pick up the pace and score as quickly as possible. But instead of doing that, the Chiefs seemed to take their time making their way down the field, facing at least two big conversions on third and fourth down. The good think if they made their way down the field and eventually got a score. The bad thing is they wasted too much time in doing so. The Chiefs actually could have scored before the two-minute warning, but they ran the football on first and goal at the one-yard line and were stuffed. The Chiefs scored with 1:13 left and all three timeouts left too. But with such a little amount of time left, the Chiefs were only able to do an onside kick and hope their defense could stop them and stop them quickly. That did not happen at all for them and they lost the game. Time management has been an issue for Chiefs head coach Andy Reid since he was coaching back in Philadelphia. And unfortunately for him, it reared its ugly head again at the wrong time. If they would have picked up the pace and threw the ball down the field more on that last scoring drive, then they would have given themselves a better chance.
The Chiefs had their chances to win the game today. But in a game of this magnitude, you have to take advantage of your opportunities. The Chiefs did not take advantage of them and the Packers continued to miss them over and over. And as a result, the Chiefs are headed home and their win streak is over. Maybe next year the Chiefs will continue to grow their offense to where it isn’t a surprise when they stretch the field with their passing game. And hopefully they add more weapons in the passing game to make themselves even more dangerous. But as of right now, they can only think of what could have been while the Patriots continue their winning ways.