Tom Brady insists the “odds were stacked against the Patriots” after clinching a ninth Super Bowl appearance in a dramatic 37-31 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The AFC championship game produced a thriller at Arrowhead with Patrick Mahomes eventually dancing in the pocket enough to heat up the engine of one of the NFL’s most potent offenses in subzero temperatures.
Despite two interceptions, Brady drove the Patriots down the field to grab the lead for what appeared one final time as Rex Burkhead burst into the endzone for a three-point lead with a minute and 24 seconds remaining.
But Mahomes responded to justify the script before kick-off suggesting a passing of the guard, positioning Harrison Butker to drill a 39-yard field goal with just eight seconds remaining.
The Pats then won the coin toss ahead of overtime with Arrowhead seemingly resigned to their fate; Brady plotting his team’s way 75 yards downfield for Burkhead to ram home the two-yard dagger and secure a third-straight Super Bowl appearance in Atlanta.
“The odds were stacked against us,” Brady said after securing his 57th career game-winning drive. “It hasn’t been that way for us for a while. It certainly was this year. We started off so slow.
“Overtime, on the road against a great team. They had no quit. Neither did we. We played our best football at the end. I don’t know, man, I’m tired. That was a hell of a game.”
Facing the Patriots in Atlanta will be the Rams after a 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game.
The game will forever be clouded by controversy though, after Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman committed a blatant interference penalty with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Tommylee Lewis before the pass arrived inside the five, thus forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal.
The Rams, down just 23-20 with 1:41 left in regulation remaining, extended the game into overtime before Greg Zuerlein’s 57-yard field goal clinched a 26-23 victory, with both road teams advancing to the Super Bowl, snapping a seven-year streak of home teams triumphing in championship games.
The NFL’s finale will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3.