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Pass-happy Patriots prove balance is overrated

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The Patriots knew they couldn't run the ball against Kansas City, so on Saturday they took the wisest approach possible: They didn't even try.

In classic New England fashion, the defending Super Bowl champions opened their latest playoff odyssey with 14 consecutive passes in a 27-20 Divisional Round win over the Chiefs.

The unorthodox approach by play-caller Josh McDaniels and quarterback Tom Brady made the Patriots the first team to start a playoff tilt with that many consecutive throws since STATS began tracking those numbers in 1991.

Historical footnotes aside, New England's approach is another reminder that coach Bill Belichick is still conducting the NFL's master class on boldly playing to his team's strengths while refusing to give opponents even the sniff of a favorable matchup. It was fascinating to watch Brady flinging passes on the game's final drive, completing a ricocheted lob to Julian Edelman to seal the win.

With Edelman back in the lineup, Brady hit his favorite receiver 10 times for 100 yards off a team-high 16 targets, with another seven completions to tight end Rob Gronkowski, the unstoppable behemoth who ripped through Kansas City's secondary for 83 yards and two scores.

Brady's receivers struggled with drops -- Edelman, especially -- but that didn't stop New England from unleashing 42 throws to just seven total carries by New England's milquetoast crop of running backs.

The lack of faith in New England's backfield is a concern for the Patriots, but can you blame their approach? Who needs balance when your future Hall of Fame quarterback rips off 13 straight completions in the biggest game of the year, a streak that started before the half and lasted through the entire third quarter against a Chiefs defense that failed to register a sack.

Never veering from the blueprint, Brady kept lobbing the ball as the clock ticked away on Kansas City's season, a magical campaign that finally struck midnight on Saturday against the NFL's top-coached -- and most unpredictable -- team.

What the Patriots do next is anyone's guess.

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