FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots did enough to win an AFC Divisional Playoff game Saturday, and that’s certainly cause for celebration.
But the Patriots have loftier goals than just making it to the AFC Championship Game, and that mindset became evident immediately after New England’s 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.
“I think we had plenty of plays out there that we left on the field, things that we can definitely do better,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. “I think we can be sharper next week. So that’s what we’re going to try to be. We’re going to need it. Whoever we play, they’re going to be a great team.”
That statement comes from a guy who completed 67 percent of his passes (28 of 42) while throwing for 302 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Yet Brady is right: The Patriots’ offensive effort wasn’t perfect. They were successful through the air but averaged just 2.7 yards per rush with 38 yards on 14 attempts. After converting 4 of 5 third-down attempts in the first quarter, New England went just 2 of 7 the rest of the way.
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who dropped a few passes early but found his groove to post 100 receiving yards on 10 catches, seemed to agree with his quarterback’s assessment.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Edelman said. “We’ve got a lot of situations that we could have done better on, but it was definitely good to go out there and get a win.”
Edelman’s fellow wide receiver pretty much echoed those sentiments.
“We played well,” Danny Amendola said. “Well enough to win, but there’s still definitely room for improvement, too. We’ll just go back to work this week and try to get better for next week.”
The Patriots either will face the Denver Broncos and their top-ranked defense on the road or the Pittsburgh Steelers and their high-powered offense at home in the AFC Championship Game, pending the result of Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup.
The mood in New England’s locker room appears straightforward: It’s great to get a win, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images