Charg­ers give Pats fight­ing chance in KC

Boston Herald - - NFL PLAYOFFS - BY DANNY VEN­TURA Twit­ter: @Bos­tonHer­aldHS

FOXBORO — Philip Rivers would pre­fer to be play­ing in Ar­row­head Sta­dium next Sun­day, but the Charg­ers’ quar­ter­back ad­mits next week’s AFC Cham­pi­onship con­test be­tween the Pa­tri­ots and Chiefs could be one for the ages.

“I mean the first game was 43-40 or some­thing like that. I would ex­pect a lot of points to be scored,” Rivers said yes­ter­day fol­low­ing his team’s 41-28 loss to the Pa­tri­ots. “I hope they go out there and play for three days and then they call it a draw.”

The Pa­tri­ots and Chiefs met in Foxboro back on Oct. 14. The hosts built up an early 24-9 lead be­fore the Chiefs ral­lied to dead­lock the score at 40, set­ting the stage for Stephen Gostkowski’s gamewin­ning 28-yard field goal on the fi­nal play.

This time, how­ever, the venue will be Ar­row­head where the Pa­tri­ots have strug­gled. The last time they met in Kansas City back in 2014, the Chiefs pounded the Pa­tri­ots, 41-14, a re­sult so one-sided that Trent Dil­fer went on na­tional tele­vi­sion af­ter­wards and pro­claimed the Pa­tri­ots just weren’t any good. Of course, the Pa­tri­ots went on to win a Su­per Bowl that sea­son.

The Charg­ers can talk with pride about play­ing in Ar­row­head be­cause they hap­pened to be the only team who won there this sea­son. They ral­lied from a 28-14 fourth-quar­ter deficit to win 29-28 when Rivers con­nected with Michael Wil­liams on a 1-yard TD pass with four sec­onds left, then fol­lowed it up with a two-point con­ver­sion toss to a wide open Wil­liams.

While no one in the locker room would choose sides, many give the Pa­tri­ots a fight­ing chance on the road due in large part to Tom Brady. He hardly looked like a 41-year-old quar­ter­back as he com­pleted 34-of-44 passes for 343 yards and a touch­down, fin­ish­ing with a passer rat­ing of 106.5.

“I was ex­pect­ing to see his best,” Charg­ers’ coach An­thony Lynn said. “It’s play­off time and he’s one of the best to ever play on the foot­ball field. He did a heck of a job tak­ing ad­van­tage of per­son­nel matchups, he’s re­ally good at find­ing weak­nesses in the de­fense.”

As he did in the reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ing against the Chiefs, Brady was able to move the ball up and down the field at will against a solid Charg­ers’ de­fense, one which lim­ited the Chiefs to 294 yards of to­tal of­fense in the late sea­son win. By con­trast, the Pa­tri­ots amassed 498 yards, most of that com­ing in the first three quar­ters.

“They ex­e­cute much more tightly,” said de­fen­sive end Joey Bosa, who was lim­ited to one tackle. “(Brady) is sit­ting back there for 1-2 sec­onds and dump­ing the ball wher­ever he wants, so it’s tough.”

One player who won’t be watch­ing the game is vet­eran of­fen­sive line­man Rus­sell Okung. While he ad­mits the game has the po­ten­tial to be a clas­sic, he won’t be among those view­ing.

“I am go­ing to sulk for the next few months,” Okung said with a laugh. “I do think it is go­ing to be a bat­tle, two very ef­fi­cient, con­sis­tent teams. It should be an in­cred­i­ble game and my hat’s off to them.”

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