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Mehta: Tom Brady makes damn sure Patriots beat Chiefs

He had the look of a raving lunatic, pumping his fist, shaking his offensive coordinator and shouting at everybody and nobody at the same time. There was no chance that the Patriots were going to lose Saturday in Foxborough on Tom Brady’s watch.

The greatest quarterback that’s ever lived spearheaded the Patriots to a 27-20 divisional round win over the Chiefs to advance to a fifth consecutive AFC Championship Game.

Brady, who will start his 10th career conference title game next weekend against the winner of Sunday’s Broncos-Steelers game, was the sketch of cool against the hottest team in the league. After limping to the regular-season finish line with four losses in the final six weeks, Brady & Co. marginalized Kansas City’s formidable pass rush with a brilliant game-plan devised by the black-eyed Hoodie and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Brady aired it out 42 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns (plus one rushing score). Patriots running backs had seven carries for 21 yards.

Balance, schmalance.

The Patriots opened the game with 14 consecutive passes, including 11 on an 80-yard scoring march capped by Brady’s eight-yard touchdown strike to Rob Gronkowski to set the tone for the day for the defending Super Bowl champions.

“I thought we had a good plan,” Brady said. “We worked hard to study this team.”

The blueprint was reminiscent of Bill Belichick’s plan of attack in a Week 7 win against the Jets that included a lop-sided, pass-heavy approach. The Chiefs, fourth in the league in sacks, barely laid a finger on Brady, who wasn’t sacked and hit only twice during another virtuoso performance.

Tom Brady's intensity is on full display as he brings the Patriots back to the AFC Championship Game for the 10th time in his career.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Tom Brady’s intensity is on full display as he brings the Patriots back to the AFC Championship Game for the 10th time in his career.

Brady tied Peyton Manning with his ninth career 300-yard passing game in the postseason. He leaned on two familiar — and previously banged up — options to win his record 22nd career playoff game. Julian Edelman, out for the final two months of the regular season with a broken foot, had 10 catches for 100 yards. Gronkowski, dealing with back and knee issues, finished with seven receptions for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“It took everything we got,” Brady said. “It’s pretty special to get back to another AFC Championship Game.”

Brady was in rare form, playing with an intensity and anger that has defined his 16-year career. He delivered in clutch moments to snap the Chiefs’ 11-game winning streak. He made Kansas City pay after the visitors squandered a precious few golden opportunities.

After Andy Reid’s team went three-and-out in the second quarter despite starting a drive at the Patriots 36-yard line, Brady was flawless on New England’s 98-yard scoring drive capped by his one-yard plunge into the end zone. Brady went 6-for-6 for 63 yards on the 11-play drive, but it was his 10-yard daredevil scramble to the 1-yard line that encapsulated the win.

Brady, drilled by a pair of Chiefs’ defenders on the play, seemed possessed on the sidelines as the Patriots’ challenged for what they believed was a touchdown. He shouted and shook a smiling McDaniels like a nut job.

“It’s just football,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of emotion in this game.”

The Patriots lost the challenge but scored on Brady’s quarterback sneak on the next play to take a 14-3 lead late in the second quarter.

Brady reminds everyone why he's one of the all-time greats, airing the ball out 42 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Brady reminds everyone why he’s one of the all-time greats, airing the ball out 42 times for 302 yards and two touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown.

Belichick’s team turned the Chiefs’ only turnover into points after Knile Davis coughed it up on the first drive of the second half. Brady responded with a five-play drive capped by his second touchdown to Gronkowski to take a 21-6 lead.

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The Chiefs got into the end zone for the first time late in the third quarter before Stephen Gostkowski’s pair of field goals gave the Patriots a comfortable lead again. Kansas City’s terrible clock management in the final minutes of the game was the final indignity, but Brady’s handiwork was the real reason why they went home losers for the first time since October.

The Patriots, meanwhile, march on.

“It’s pretty cool,” Brady said of reaching the conference title game. “It’s hard to do, man. You got to grind through the entire year. That games means a lot.”

The Patriots shouldn’t still be alive. Thanks to a wild-eyed 38-year-old man with a competitive streak like no other, they are.

Never doubt Tom Brady.  

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