By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots could not have gotten off to a better start to the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. Their opening drive was about as close to perfect as perfect gets.
After the Chiefs deferred on the opening toss, Cordarrelle Patterson took the opening kick out to the 20-yard line. From there, the offense got right to work.
Sony Michel ran for 11 yards on a cutback on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Tom Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a gain of 13 yards. Facing a third-and-4 three plays later, James White took a handoff and ran over linebacker Anthony Hitchens to pick up the yardage needed for a new set of downs.
White took an inside handoff on a third-and-1 shortly after, and he gained two yards.
The Patriots faced a third-and-7 three plays later, and Brady patiently waited for Julian Edelman to find space over the middle against a zone defense for a gain of 14.
Michel then broke an 11-yard run from the 16, setting up a first-and-goal. He was given the next two carries, and he punched it in from the 1-yard line on second-and-goal.
All together, the Patriots marched 80 yards on 15 plays, draining a full 8:05 off the clock. That was the longest drive in terms of time on the clock of Brady’s postseason career.
Michel ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Brady was 4-for-5 for 38 yards. White had two carries, both of which came on third downs, and both of which led to a new set of downs for New England. Gronkowski had two receptions for 19 yards, while Edelman had the one catch for a gain of 14.
Stephen Gostkowski added the extra point, and the Patriots got out to a 7-0 lead on the road in the AFC title game.
The defense then forced a Kansas City punt, with Kyle Van Noy sacking Patrick Mahomes on third-and-10.
It was as perfect a start as the Patriots could have hoped for in a hostile environment.