Pa­tri­ots, Chiefs set for high-scor­ing af­fair in AFC Cham­pi­onship game

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY ADAM ZIELONKA

Some foot­ball an­a­lysts thought the No. 6 In­di­anapo­lis Colts were a sexy pick to pull off an­other up­set. Some thought the No. 5 Los An­ge­les Charg­ers would re­main in­vin­ci­ble on the road against their ag­ing op­po­nents.

But in the end, the AFC’s top seeds owned the di­vi­sional round of the NFL Play­offs, and they ar­ranged a re­match of their high-scor­ing reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ing.

The No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs and the No. 2 New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots out­classed their first op­po­nents of the post­sea­son and will meet next Sun­day at Ar­row­head Sta­dium to de­cide who will rep­re­sent the AFC in Su­per Bowl LIII.

Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and scored three touch­downs as the Pa­tri­ots beat the Charg­ers 41-28 on Sun­day to earn their eighth straight trip to the AFC Cham­pi­onship Game. It is the 13th con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ance by the Pa­tri­ots dur­ing the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.

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

James White tied Dar­ren Spro­les’ NFL post­sea­son record with 15 catches, to­tal­ing 97 yards.

New Eng­land scored on its first four pos­ses­sions of the game to build a 35-7 half­time lead. The Charg­ers added three touch­downs in the sec­ond half, but it was much too late.

On Satur­day, the Chiefs top­pled the Colts 31-13 to ad­vance to the con­fer­ence ti­tle game. It will be their first AFC Cham­pi­onship Game ap­pear­ance since Jan­uary 1994, a stark con­trast to the

reg­u­lar­ity the Pa­tri­ots have ap­peared in that po­si­tion in the last two decades.

Kansas City raced out to a 17-0 lead and was up 24-7 at half­time. Quar­ter­back Pat Ma­homes threw for 278 yards and ran for a touch­down in his post­sea­son de­but, a much bet­ter first game than his coun­ter­parts La­mar Jack­son, Mitchell Tru­bisky and De­shaun Wat­son had a week ago.

The Chiefs cut start­ing run­ning back Ka­reem Hunt af­ter a video of him kick­ing a woman came out in late Novem­ber, which led some to won­der if the team’s high-oc­tane of­fense would slow down with­out him.

But Damien Wil­liams de­bunked that con­cern by rush­ing for 129 yards and a touch­down Satur­day. Re­ceiver Tyreek Hill added a 36-yard rush­ing touch­down on an end-around.

The Pa­tri­ots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in the reg­u­lar sea­son, an Oc­to­ber primetime game in New Eng­land that fore­shad­owed how the con­fer­ence cham­pion would be de­cided three months later.

In the NFC, the No. 2 Los An­ge­les Rams stuck to the trend of higher seeds dom­i­nat­ing and ad­vanc­ing. On Satur­day, the beat the fourth-seeded Dal­las Cow­boys 30-22, ad­vanc­ing to their first con­fer­ence ti­tle game since Jan­uary 2002. The game wasn’t as close as the eight­point mar­gin in­di­cates. Down 7-3 af­ter a quar­ter, the Rams jumped out to a 23-7 lead thanks to their run game and didn’t look back.

C.J. An­der­son ran for 123 yards and two touch­downs to out­gain star Todd Gur­ley, who fin­ished with 115 yards and one score.

The Rams’ de­fense held Ezekiel El­liott to 47 yards on 20 car­ries.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady (right) con­grat­u­lates run­ning back Sony Michel af­ter he scored one of his three touch­downs on Sun­day in a 41-28 vic­tory over the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers to clinch a spot in their eighth straight AFC ti­tle game.

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