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Patriots destroy Chargers, Tom Brady heads to 13th AFC Championship Game

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

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Tom Brady has been the Patriots’ starting quarterback for 17 healthy seasons. Next week he will go to Kansas City and start his 13th AFC Championship Game.

Brady’s Patriots dominated the Chargers today in New England, winning 41-28 and earning a berth in the AFC Championship against the Chiefs. It will be the 13th AFC Championship Game for Brady as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, and for Bill Belichick as their head coach.

It was an absolutely incredible performance by the Patriots, who whipped the Chargers in all phases of the game. Brady was masterful, the running attack controlled the clock when the Patriots wanted to, and the defense shut down Philip Rivers for most of the game after an early coverage breakdown led to a long touchdown pass.

In fact, it was such an incredible performance that it was a fairly bad football game: It was so obvious by the second quarter that the Patriots would win a blowout that there wasn’t any drama in the second half. The Chargers scored a couple of garbage-time touchdowns to make the score look a little closer than the game really was.

The story coming out of the game will be Brady, who at age 41 did not have his best season by any stretch but is still playing at a high level. As of next week Brady will have started as many conference championship games as Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana combined. (Bradshaw started six AFC Championships, Montana six NFC and one AFC.) That’s an incredible achievement.

The last play of the first half spoke volumes about Brady: The clock ran out with the Patriots in field goal range and out of timeouts, and Brady was furious that the Patriots had botched the clock. The score was 35-7 at the time, but Brady wasn’t happy. That Brady is upset about one mistake in a game his team leads 35-7 is why Brady’s teams so often have 35-7 leads.

Now the Patriots will face the Chiefs in a rematch of one of the best games of the 2018 regular season. And Brady will try to reach his ninth Super Bowl.