FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Playing with as much emotion as ever in his NFL record-tying 30th career postseason game, 38-year-old New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had the home crowd chanting during a 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
"Brady! Brady! Brady!”
Thanks to Brady, the return of receiver Julian Edelman and two touchdown catches from tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots looked like a different offense than the unit that struggled down the stretch.
With the victory, Brady extended his NFL record for postseason wins to 22. On Jan. 24, he will play in his 10th conference championship game, which is the most of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Against the Chiefs, Brady finished 28-of-42 for 302 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has played 17 career playoff games in which he threw two or more touchdowns, which is an NFL record (Brett Favre is second with 15).
As the game ended, the chants started up again.
"Brady! Brady! Brady!”
What it means: The Patriots matched the Raiders (1973-77) as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to advance to five straight AFC title games, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. This game serves as a reminder that momentum can be overrated entering the playoffs. The Chiefs had won 11 in a row and were one of the hottest teams in the NFL, while the Patriots had lost four of six and didn't look like themselves. As one fan said on Twitter, the Chiefs came in with 11, but the Patriots had 12.
No holding back with Gronkowski and Edelman: The Patriots didn't hold back their use of Gronkowski, who was playing through knee and back injuries, or Edelman, who was playing in his first game since Nov. 15. Gronkowski was charted on the field for 54 of 59 snaps (the four he missed were kneel-downs), while Edelman was on for 52 of 59, including penalties. Gronkowski also recovered the Chiefs' onside kick attempt late in the fourth quarter.
No repercussions for Jones: One pregame storyline was whether head coach Bill Belichick would discipline defensive end Chandler Jones, and as it turned out, he did nothing of the sort. Jones started and was part of a three-man rotation with Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard. He forced a fumble that was turned into a touchdown in the third quarter.
How they attacked the Chiefs: Not including kneel-downs, the Patriots had three or more receivers on the field for 47 of their first 50 snaps of the game. This set up a matchup between their 3-receiver package and the Chiefs' nickel defense; the Patriots opened the game with 14 straight pass attempts.
Ouch: Linebackers Jamie Collins (shoulder) and Jerod Mayo (shoulder) left the game in the third quarter and did not return. Starting center Bryan Stork missed some time in the first half because of an ankle injury.
Game ball: Brady finished with 302 passing yards to go with two touchdowns and no interceptions. This was his ninth career postseason game with 300 or more passing yards. It was his legs, though, that had the home crowd chanting his name in the second quarter, with his 10-yard run setting up a 1-yard QB sneak for a score. Brady was as emotional as ever in this game.
From the miscellaneous file: Since 2001, the Patriots are 70-0 at home when leading by eight-plus points after three quarters (9-0 in postseason). … Brady became the fifth player in NFL playoff history to have multiple games with at least two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He joined Aaron Rodgers, Donovan McNabb, Tobin Rote and Otto Graham. … Brady recorded his ninth 300-yard passing game in the playoffs, which tied Peyton Manning's NFL record.
What's next: The Patriots will face the winner of Sunday's Steelers-Broncos game. If the Broncos win, the Patriots will travel to Denver for next Sunday's game. If the Steelers win, the Patriots will host the game.