Brady qui­ets talk that he and Pats are near the end

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NFL PLAYOFFS - By Kyle Hightower Kyle Hightower is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

FOXBOR­OUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady rec­og­nizes that there are some who be­lieve the Pa­tri­ots are near­ing the end of their run of un­prece­dented play­off suc­cess.

New Eng­land took its first step to­ward si­lenc­ing those voices for a lit­tle longer.

Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and had three touch­downs and the Pa­tri­ots beat the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers 41-28 in the di­vi­sional play­offs on Sun­day to earn their eighth straight trip to the AFC Cham­pi­onship Game.

New Eng­land will play at Kansas City in Sun­day’s AFC ti­tle game. The Pa­tri­ots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in Foxbor­ough in Week 6. The Pa­tri­ots fin­ished 9-0 at home.

It is the 13th con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance by the Pa­tri­ots dur­ing the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.

“It’s go­ing to be a good game,” Brady said of the re­match with Kansas City. “They’re a good team. We played them ear­lier this year. I know ev­ery­body thinks we suck and, you know, we can’t win any games, so we’ll see.”

The Charg­ers haven’t reached the AFC ti­tle game since the 2007 sea­son.

Philip Rivers fin­ished 25for-51 for 331 yards, with three touch­downs and an in­ter­cep­tion. He is 0-5 in games played in Foxbor­ough, 0-3 in the play­offs.

Brady fin­ished 34-for-44 for 343 yards and a touch­down. He im­proves to 8-0 as a starter against Rivers, who is 1-8 against New Eng­land all-time.

“He’s up there, if not the all-time great, then one of,” Rivers said.

James White tied Dar­ren Spro­les’ NFL post­sea­son record with 15 catches, to­tal­ing 97 yards. Ju­lian Edel­man had nine re­cep­tions for 151 yards.

New Eng­land scored on its first four pos­ses­sions to build a 35-7 half­time lead.

The Charg­ers added three touch­downs in the sec­ond half, but it was much too late.

Los An­ge­les lost for just the sec­ond time on the road and first time out­side Los An­ge­les this sea­son. In their past four trips to the play­offs, the Charg­ers have lost in the di­vi­sional round.

“We got our butts kicked,” Los An­ge­les head coach An­thony Lynn said.

Rivers seemed poised to keep Los An­ge­les in the game, con­nect­ing with Keenan Allen for a 43-yard score on Los An­ge­les’ first pos­ses­sion to tie the game 7-7. It was the long­est touch­down of Allen’s ca­reer, in­clud­ing the post­sea­son.

It turned out to be just a blip. The Charg­ers punted the four other times they had the ball in the first half.

The Pa­tri­ots were ef­fi­cient through­out the open­ing 30 min­utes, go­ing 5-for-5 in the red zone, 5-for-6 on third down and com­mit­ting one penalty.

New Eng­land didn’t go three-and-out for the first time un­til its fifth pos­ses­sion of the day when it punted with 3:32 left in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Ryan Allen’s 48-yard punt then was fum­bled by Des­mond King, send­ing the ball rolling to­ward the side­line. The ref­er­ees ruled the ball went out of bounds be­fore New Eng­land’s Al­bert McClellan ap­peared to re­cover it. But the play was re­versed af­ter a chal­lenge by Belichick.

The turnover proved costly, with the Pa­tri­ots scor­ing just four plays later when Michel crossed the goal line from 5 yards for his third touch­down of the half.

Asked whether this vic­tory proved at least some of the Pa­tri­ots’ doubters wrong, Brady paused and smiled.

“I just like win­ning,” he said. “I just like win­ning.”

Adam Glanzman / Getty Im­ages

New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady was 34-for-44 for 343 yards and a touch­down against the Charg­ers. The Pa­tri­ots ad­vanced to the AFC Cham­pi­onship Game for the eighth straight year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.