FOXBOROUGH - In a decade that featured three Super Bowl championships for the New England Patriots, it probably seems odd to include a different game from one of those years. But while the Super Bowl LIII title the New England Patriots won this year over the Los Angeles Rams was obviously awesome and resulted in another banner at Gillette Stadium, it's hard to say it was a great game. Defensively, the efforts from both teams were great, but ultimately, a 13-3 affair with one stellar drive from Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel is not enough to make the top ten of the entire decade.
The Patriots game that immediately preceded it definitely deserves to be on here. While comebacks were abound when the Patriots faced off against teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos in the playoffs this decade, no non-Super Bowl game was as purely thrilling as the 2019 AFC Championship Game between the Pats and the Kansas City Chiefs. In it, Tom Brady was pitted against young upstart Patrick Mahomes, in what many billed as the "passing of the torch." As it turned out, Brady was not yet ready to cede the mantle to Mahomes.
In the first half of the game, it was all Patriots. The two teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with New England ahead by a score of 14-0. Tom Brady had been aces in the first half and the Patriots defense had shut down Mahomes entirely. Thanks to touchdowns from Michel and Phillip Dorsett, the Patriots were certainly relishing in their commanding lead.
The Chiefs answered right back in the third quarter, though, thanks to a Travis Kelce touchdown. But after a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, the game ventured into a roller coaster fourth quarter with a score of 17-7.
Two out passes in the first half of the fourth quarter from Mahomes to Damien Williams resulted in the Chiefs suddenly seizing the lead by a margin of 21-17, but Michel answered right back with a ten yard burst up the seam of his own to reclaim a 24-21 lead for the Pats. But with two minutes left, Williams scored again and the Chiefs were suddenly back on top, 28-24.
As we know, two minutes is more than enough time for Brady, as he orchestrated a drive down the field for six plays, 65 yards, and just under 90 seconds of game time. One terrifying moment that seemed like an interception was called back after a blatant offside penalty for Kansas City. The drive ultimately resulted in a Rex Burkhead rushing touchdown and a 31-28 lead.
The quality of play from the quarterbacks was so high in the game, though, that 39 seconds on the clock was immediately seen as more than enough time for Mahomes to run four quick plays for 48 yards. Harrison Butker trotted out onto the field, kicked a field goal, and sent the game to overtime.
It was in overtime when the Patriots slowed down their pace and ultimately snuffed out a tired Chiefs defense. New England recorded a 13 play drive for 75 yards, eating up just under five minutes of game time. At the goal line, Burkhead dove in again and the Patriots won 37-31 and were headed to the Super Bowl.
It still makes me as giddy as Tom Brady to think about!
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