2019 AFC Championship Recap: Old Dogs New Tricks

Holy guacamole that was a spicy game.

The New England Patriots are your AFC Champions for the third year in a row, advancing to their 3rd straight Super Bowl.

Like most Patriot games this season, it was won on the inside. The offensive line played amazing, not giving up a single sack to a team that led the NFL in sacks this season. I know I said this last week, but Left Tackle Trent Brown is the truth and should be praised by the fanbase. 6’ 8’’ 380 lbs and only 25 years old, he is going to be around for a long time. It is not sexy to talk about an offensive lineman, but he is the driving point behind this playoff run. He was going one on one with Chris Jones for a good portion of the game and the young man was holding his own the entire game. Shaq Mason had a great game on the right side of the line.

The Patriots opening drive was an almost exact repeat of the week before against the Chargers. The first drive went for 8 minutes and 5 seconds. They know the Chiefs have the most high powered offense in the league; Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels knew they needed to bleed the clock early and keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is going to learn this in the years to come, but you don’t always want to score as quickly as you can. Well coached teams, like the Patriots, know how to use the clock to their advantage. Take as an example the Pats decision to run the ball on 1st and goal with :42 seconds left. If they don’t get the touchdown, they run more time off the clock and give Patrick Mahomes less time to march down the field and get that game tying field goal.

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It may not seem like it when you allow the other team to come back and score 31 points in the second half, but the New England defense executed the game plan perfectly. They double teamed Tyreek Hill all game and held him to 1 catch for 43 yards. Travis Kelce was kept to 3 catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. They told the Chiefs: you are going to have to beat us without your top 2 weapons. Credit to Andy Reid for making the right adjustments. Really it was the same play that burned the Pat’s defense 3 times. Damien Williams ran a wheel route and the outside receiver ran a pick route to get him wide open on the outside. That play lead to three drives ending in touchdowns.

My defensive MVP of the game though was Kyle Van Noy. He’s a great run stopper, pass rusher, and covers the crossing routes and screens well. Once you ask him to cover someone down field, it become an issue, but luckily that only happened a handful of times. Van Noy finished the game with a team leading 8 tackles and 2 sacks with a forced fumble. His biggest play came in the third quarter, when he sacked Mahomes and pushed the Chiefs out of field goal range forcing a punt.

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What I thought was brilliant down the stretch was the Patriot’s decision to go with Rex Burkhead instead of Sony Michel. Sony once again had a great game and ran for over 100 yards. But because Burkhead has the playoff experience and Michel is a rookie, Belichick decided to go with the veteran. I loved not leaving anything to chance and going with the safer bet in this kind of game.

Overall, a well coached game and players executed the game plan throughout regulation and overtime. Tom Brady is going to play in his 9th Super Bowl and the franchise’s 11th. The Patriots are moving on to Super Bowl 53 to take on the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta.


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Twitter: @MatthewSulla