FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Chandler Jones started at his customary right defensive end slot as the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20 in their AFC divisional round playoff game Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

Bill Belichick’s decision to start him came as a surprise to many, who expected Jones to sit at the start of the game after an eventful week in which he sought help from the Foxborough Police Department and briefly was hospitalized for what was called a medical emergency.

Jones didn’t miss a practice and apologized for what he called “a stupid mistake.” He didn’t elaborate.

Jones didn’t play as much as normal in the first half, which ended with the Patriots ahead 14-6. He was in on only 17 of the Patriots’ 37 defensive plays. According to Football Outsiders, he is normally in on 78.8 percent of the snaps.

But he made an impact in the third quarter when he was credited with a forced fumble that was recovered by teammate Dont’a Hightower on Kansas City’s first drive of the second half. New England went on to get a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski that made it 21-6.

Jones finished with four tackles and the Patriots’ only sack of Alex Smith before leaving with what appeared to be an injury to his right leg in the fourth quarter. He didn’t return.

THE PATRIOTS will play in their fifth consecutive AFC championship game, joining the Oakland Raiders as the only NFL teams to appear in five straight conference championship games.

Oakland did it from 1973-77, winning one. The Pats are 2-2 in their first four and will play the winner of Sunday’s Denver-Pittsburgh game. The game would be at Gillette Stadium if the Steelers win, at Denver if the Broncos win.

“It really doesn’t seem real,” said Matthew Slater, New England’s special teams captain. “I can’t overstate how fortunate we are as an organization to experience this type of success. It’s really unbelievable. We’re very fortunate.”

Asked how the Patriots do it, Slater said, “I can give you two big reasons. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Obviously (owner Robert) Kraft plays a big part in that, too.”

AFTER WONDERING all week who will play and who won’t among the injured players on both squads, there were no surprises when it came to the inactive lists. Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Scott Chandler and Sebastian Vollmer – all listed Friday as questionable – were all active. Gronkowski was of particular interest because it had been reported the got shots into his injured knee Thursday, when he was also listed with a back injury (which wasn’t listed Friday).

WHEN TOM Brady took his first snap from Bryan Stork, he tied former Patriot Adam Vinatieri for the most postseason games played in NFL history with 30. Jerry Rice is second with 29 and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis third with 27.

Brady also held NFL postseason records for touchdown passes (55), touchdown passes in a game (6, tied with Oakland’s Darryl Lamonica), passing yards (7,647), completions (711) and completion percentage in a single game (92.9, 26 of 28 vs. Jacksonville in the 2007 Divisional game).

Brady thew for 302 yards, tying Peyton Manning for most career postseason 300-yard passing games with nine.

Brady has the most playoff wins in NFL history with 22.

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI became New England’s all-time leader in postseason points with his first PAT kick of the first half. That gave him 118 points in the postseason.

He had been tied with Vinatieri with 117. Gostkowski finished the game with 126 career playoff points, tied for fifth all-time.


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