By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

FOXBORO (CBS) — A Kansas City Chiefs team rolled into Gillette Stadium on Saturday having won 11 straight games, coming off a 30-0 win in the wild-card round, and feeling pretty darn confident about their chance.

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But then they ran into the Patriots.

Those Patriots haven’t quite looked like themselves over the course of the past month or two, and while they were far from perfect on Saturday afternoon, their effort from top to bottom was more than enough to secure New England a ticket to the AFC Championship Game next weekend.

Whether that game takes place in Foxboro or out in Denver is yet to be determined, so for now, it’s time to run through the Ups and the Downs from the 27-20 Patriots victory.

Four Ups

Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski

This one’s as obvious as can be. These two players have been the key components of the Patriots’ offense when it’s functioning at a high level, and when either or both are out of the lineup, things become that much more difficult for everyone else.

Well, despite Edelman coming off a broken foot suffered in November, and despite Gronkowski missing two practices this week with knee and back ailments, the duo looked pretty much 100 percent against the Chiefs.

Together, they caught 17 passes for 183 yards; the rest of the Patriots caught nine passes for 119 yards. Gronkowski caught two touchdowns, the only two which were scored through the air for New England.

Of Edelman’s 10 receptions, eight of them resulted in first downs — and two of those came on third downs. Both of the drives on which Edelman moved the chains on a third down ended in touchdowns.

Heading into the game, the Patriots weren’t exactly soaring. But with Edelman and Gronkowski looking the way they did on Saturday, there’s reason again to believe in New England.

Tom Brady

Of course, great receivers aren’t much without a great quarterback. And Tom Brady was fairly great on Saturday.

Facing a Chiefs defense that ranked fourth in the NFL in sacks, second in interceptions, and second in passer rating against, Brady started the day going 8-for-11 for 80 yards and a touchdown. He’d finish the day with 302 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and another rushing touchdown.

And most importantly of all, he took zero sacks, which is in part a credit to the offensive line but also a sign of a quarterback who knows many ways to avoid negative plays.

Brady added some stats to his unprecedented postseason resume, but most importantly, he added a W. (He’s now 22-8.)

Chandler Jones

The 25-year-old had himself a rough week, but he avoided any on-field discipline from head coach Bill Belichick. While his off-field incident last weekend is not going to just go away, the Pro Bowl defensive end did make an impact on this game that ought to generate some headlines as well.

Namely, Jones used his huge wingspan to make a last-gasp effort to jar the ball loose from Knile Davis on the opening drive of the second half. Dont’a Hightower was able to recover the ball, and the Patriots drove 69 yards on five plays to increase their lead from 14-6 to 21-6. Those proved to be the winning points.

Turnovers figured to play a huge role, as the two teams ranked one and two in the NFL in terms of fewest giveaways. Jones made sure the Patriots were the ones to capitalize.

Jones also got credit for a sack on the day.

The Defense

Look, Alex Smith is perhaps the least daring quarterback in NFL history. Travis Kelce is not Rob Gronkowski. Jeremy Maclin was not 100 percent. All of this is true.

Yet, none of it should completely discount what the Patriots’ defense did all day Saturday. It was a game-plan that essentially played right into the tendencies of the Chiefs offense, as the Patriots did everything but beg the Chiefs to dink and dunk their way down the field every time they touched the ball.

The end result was long, methodical drives that chewed up clock but didn’t net more than three points, and that ultimately proved to be a winning strategy for New England.

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But that’s not to say the defense bent all afternoon. In particular, the defense stood tall early in the fourth quarter, when the Chiefs took over trailing by just eight points with nearly a full quarter to play.

Run, no gain. Completion, no gain. Sack. Punt.

That was a drive that could have made things awfully interesting down the stretch, but instead led to a punt and a Patriots field goal drive.

The defense also gets credit for limiting Travis Kelce to just 23 receiving yards. He was coming off a 10-catch, 128-yard performance vs. Houston last week,

Four Downs

Tom Brady On Final Drive

By almost all accounts, it was an excellent day for Brady. But what in the world was he thinking on the final drive?

On a second-and-12 at the K.C. 46-yard line, the Patriots wanted to pick up a first down to seal the game. It was understandable. What wasn’t understandable was Brady’s decision to throw the ball directly at Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, who was standing among a swarm of red surrounding Rob Gronkowski.

Hali let the pass bounce off his shoulder, and it ended up in Edelman’s arms for a first down. But had Hali made that pick, he might have been off to the races with the game-tying touchdown in his hands. Even if Hali didn’t break it for a score, the Chiefs would have had 1:01 and two timeouts to travel 60 or so yards.

That could have been bad.

Jamie Collins

The linebacker left the game early in the third quarter and did not return. On the positive side for Collins, he spent the rest of the game on the sideline, and not the locker room, as he received some attention on his back.

He may be OK for next week, but any injury at this point of the year is concerning.

Duron Harmon

It’s hard to fault someone for making a play when it’s there in front of him … but Duron Harmon pulled a Marlon McCree Lite.

On a fourth-and-10 from midfield, Alex Smith launched a prayer down the right sideline, a pass that was sort-of-maybe intended for Albert Wilson. But it came up well short, and Harmon made a break on the ball and should have knocked it down harmlessly out of bounds.

Instead, Harmon made a play to intercept the pass. Instead of taking over at midfield, the Patriots would have the ball at their own 23-yard line. A turnover on downs, rather than a standard turnover, would have been much more beneficial.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter, as the play was reviewed and overturned. But those types of little mistakes are rare for a Belichick-coached team, and could prove much more damaging in future situations.

Andy Reid

Yes, he’s not a member of the Patriots, but this man was responsible for some bogus football at the end of the game. The Chiefs got the ball down to the 1-yard line with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter. They then hurried (somewhat) to the line and handed off to Charcandrick West. He was stuffed behind the line … and the Chiefs let the clock tick, tick, tick, all the way down to the two-minute warning.

Tackle Eric Fisher was penalized for a false start coming out of the two-minute warning, moving them back to the 7-yard line. Smith then threw to Jason Avant well short of the goal line for a measly gain of four yards. Tick, tick, tick, tick, and the Chiefs let another 33 seconds waste away before running their next play.

They did eventually find the end zone … 1:15 after they got to the 1-yard line. And they had three timeouts the whole time.

The Chiefs kicked an onside, and the Patriots recovered, and that was basically that.

After the game, Reid didn’t think he did anything wrong in terms of clock management. It shouldn’t surprise you, but it did rob us all of an exciting finish to the game in some fashion.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.