As the Divisional weekend of the NFL postseason kicked off this past Saturday, many thought the “evil empire” of the New England Patriots would finally come to an end. People thought that Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski would retire and Bill Belichick would be right behind them. Well, if you didn’t catch the 1:05 eastern time kickoff, I’m here to tell you none of that happened, not even close. The Patriots, who struggled mightily during the first quarter of the NFL season, made everyone forget about those struggles on Sunday.
An Early Season Panic:
On September 29th the “Dynasty’s dead” hot takes were at an all-time high. The New England Patriots were 1-2 had just lost 26-10 on the road in Detroit and were looking up at division rival, Miami Dolphins. Many thought that their dominant division run had come to an end. However, the next day they came home to Gillette and put a dominant thumping to the Miami Dolphins and everything changed. They proceeded to go on a six-game winning streak, dominating at home, and putting themselves quickly at the top of the AFC East. And, for the time being, putting all the dynasties dead talk to bed.
The Patriots’ offense, with the decline of Gronkowski, was searching for a run game. Boy did they find it against a very good Chargers’ defense. The Patriots rushed for 155 yards, oh and the “declining” Gronkowski was a huge contributor to that. That’s right, the pass-catching tight end Rob Gronkowski was one of the biggest factors in a rather dominant run game. Brady was also absolutely incredible. Brady had fallen off a little in the back half of the Patriots season. Pretty understandable for a nearly 42-year-old quarterback.
Brady showed up to the game on Sunday five hours before game time to prepare for the Los Angeles Chargers. Tom Brady had his second best in passing yards on the season at 343, tied for the most completed passes (34), and tied for second highest on the season in total passes attempted. He turned back the clock to revamp a very balanced New England offense. An offense that scored at will.
Taking the game early:
The New England Patriots are a team accustom to winning the coin toss and deferring their possession to the second half. Instead, on Sunday they chose to receive on the coin toss and scored right away and never looked back.
The Patriots scored touchdowns on their first four drives and touchdowns of five of their first six drives. The one drive they didn’t score on resulted in a turnover by Chargers punt returner Desmond King II that later turned into a Patriots’ touchdown. From the opening whistle, the Patriots dominated the offensive side of the ball.
They were one missed Stephon Gilmore assignment on Keenan Allen away from a perfect half defensively and held a choke-hold 35-7 lead at halftime. In other words, the Patriots hit Philip Rivers and the Chargers right in the mouth in dominant fashion, a lead that would later prove insurmountable for a rattled Philip Rivers and the Chargers.
Looking Forward to being an Underdog:
It’s not very often that the New England Patriots come into a game as an underdog. It is even less often that an AFC Championship is not held in Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will take their season 3-5 road record into Arrowhead stadium where they are 1-2.
Most notably the last game between the two played there was a 42-14 route of the Patriots in week four of the 2014 season in which Brady was benched for the better part of the fourth quarter. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season, but Arrowhead is far from a fun place to play for visiting players.
However, how many times do the Patriots get to use the underdog role to their advantage? Tom Brady and the Patriots have been hearing doubt from people the whole season. Sunday, January 20, the Patriots get an opportunity to prove everyone wrong again, continue the legacy, and chance another Super Bowl ring.
With an Arctic Blast predicted in the weather in Kansas City on Sunday, the temperatures are expected to be single digits. If there’s one thing to know about the New England Patriots and the cold, you don’t ever go against Tom Brady. Patrick Mahomes may be the league MVP and the Patriots haven’t won a road playoff game since 2004, but take Tom and the Patriots in the cold against a young quarterback and a below average defense every time.
Featured image from SI.com.
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