FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The boys of winter made the Kansas City Chiefs look like the January novices they were.

The New England Patriots, always in their element in the NFL playoffs, made their guests uneasy from the outset Saturday and dispatched the Chiefs 27-20 in an AFC divisional playoff game before an announced crowd of 66,829 at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots drove 80 yards to paydirt on their first drive, as quarterback Tom Brady reconnected with old friends Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. They topped that with a 98-yard scoring drive in the second quarter.

The Chiefs, who won a playoff game for the first time in 22 years last weekend, could answer only with a field goal both times.

The Patriots committed no turnovers while forcing a key third-quarter fumble. Brady threw 42 passes without being sacked, only the second time this season that happened.

It was a near-flawless outing by a team whose standards are utter flawlessness.

“It was good to get off to a fast start. We talked about that, and you don’t want to play this team from behind,” Brady said after the Patriots (13-4) snapped Kansas City’s 11-game winning streak. “There are only four teams playing next week, and we’re one of them. And that game means a lot, so we’ve got to try to get as healthy as we can and see if we can put together our best game of the year.”

Brady will make a record-tying 10th AFC championship game appearance. The opponent will be determined Sunday when the Steelers play the Broncos. If Pittsburgh wins, the title game will be back at Gillette Stadium; Denver would host the Patriots if it prevails.

Brady completed 28 of 42 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns, both to Gronkowski. He ran for another score. Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals.

It was humdrum stuff by New England standards.

It seemed like a frustrating blur for the Chiefs, who had 47 sacks this year but couldn’t pressure Brady in the most important game of their season.

“I think the ball coming out quick was the biggest challenge,” Kansas City defensive end Tamba Hali said. “When the ball is coming out in one or two seconds, there’s not much you can do, but I believe if we did jam them the whole game that we would have had success.”

On offense, Kansas City (12-6) mounted four methodical scoring drives, each spanning at least 11 plays. But the Patriots stiffened in the red zone when they needed to, and the Chiefs trailed 14-6 at halftime after managing only a pair of Cairo Santos field goals.

“If we didn’t hold them to field goals, we could have possibly lost that game,” New England defensive back Duron Harmon said. “Any time you can hold a team to a field goal in the red zone, it’s a four-point swing, so we can say we took eight points off the board from them and we won by seven. If we didn’t, it could have been a whole different game.”

The Chiefs’ final touchdown came with 1:13 remaining after a mystifyingly plodding 80-yard drive that drained 5:16 off the clock. Coach Andy Reid opted to save all three of his timeouts and his offense wasted 20 seconds near the goal line as it huddled instead of running a play before the 2-minute warning.

“It’s a fine line getting in the best play versus keep going at the line of scrimmage,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “That probably hurt us there.”

The Chiefs attempted an onside kick, but Gronkowski gobbled that up and the Patriots ran out the clock.

“We played well. Well enough to win, but there’s still definitely room for improvement, too,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said. “We’ll just go back to work this week and try to get better for next week.”

It’s next week for the Patriots, next year for the Chiefs.

The same as always.


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