FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Just about everyone predicted a shootout for Sunday night’s game. It was going to be a battle between two high-powered offenses. That was the forecast for this AFC showdown.

Well, it lived up to the billing, and then some. From the Patriots’ end, they knew they had to score just about every time they got the football. But were they ready to do that?

Were they really ready to keep up with the Chiefs, the most hyped offense in the league? The explosive 35-point-per-game juggernaut with rising star Patrick Mahomes at the helm?

Perhaps that was one of the biggest takeaways from this track meet. Not only were the Patriots ready, in some ways, Tom Brady & Co. were better than the kid gunslinger with the high-flying offense.

They had to be, and the offense certainly did its part Sunday night in the battle for AFC supremacy, as the Patriots took down the previously unbeaten Chiefs, 43-40, in a wild and crazy game at Gillette Stadium.

Brady produced points on practically every drive, converting on 7 of 13 third downs.


Basically, the offense produced exactly what was needed to take down the AFC front-runner: four touchdowns, five field goals.

They needed to possess the ball and extend drives, and that’s what they did, never punting during the game. There were contributions across the board, as the game came down to one last drive – by the Patriots.

With 3:03 remaining and the score tied at 40, Brady and offense calmly moved down the field from the 25, killed the rest of the clock, and then handed it off to Stephen Gostkowski, who won it with a 28-yard-field goal.

“They’ve been scoring a lot of points all year,” Brady said of the Chiefs. “They’re going to be pretty tough to stop, so glad we had our last shot and glad we took advantage of it.”

What ultimately separated the Patriots were the clutch plays – they made more of them. It was Julian Edelman breaking free on a third-and-10 from the Kansas City 17 for his first touchdown catch of the season in the second quarter to put the Patriots up 17-6. It was Brady hitting Chris Hogan for 42 yards on third-and-1 with Kansas City up 33-30 in the fourth. Brady, on third-and-goal from the 4, scrambling into the end zone to put New England back in front 37-33. Sony Michel converting a third-and-1 right before the two-minute warning to allow the Patriots to run the clock down before Gostkowski’s winner. Before that, Brady hitting Rob Gronkowski with for 39 yards to set up the field goal.

“I think we have a lot of clutch players. I think we have no problem grinding it out,” said Brady, who was 24 for 35 for 340 yards and a touchdown. “That’s what the football season is all about. I don’t think we’ve seen our best. I think we can all play a lot better, and I think that’s what we plan to do.”


That’s the funny part. They keep scoring more, and Brady keeps saying, they can do better.

And he’s right.

Little by little, it is getting better. Josh Gordon is now a full fixture in the offense, playing in most of the snaps. He’s still not completely in sync with Brady but he did have a team-high five catches for 42 yards. James White, who didn’t have his first catch until late in the second quarter, also had five catches for 42 yards.

Another encouraging sign for the Patriots’ offense was the running game. The offense was primarily generated by a ground game that was dominant at times thanks to the offensive line and Michel’s power running. He finished with 106 yards on 24 carries, none more important than the 2 yards he gained on the third-and-1 on the final drive. He also rushed for a pair of touchdowns.

When the Patriots are able to run the ball as well as they did against the Chiefs, and as they did the previous two games against the Colts and Dolphins, it just sets up their passing game, and play action is so much better.

“We were making plays,” said Brady. “And, we talked about competing for 60 minutes, and that’s what it took. It took us right down to the last three seconds.”

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