The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs on Saturday afternoon by the score of 27-20 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Here are 12 observations from the game:
1. Chiefs magical season comes to an end
It wasn't the ending anyone in Chiefs Kingdom wanted, but from a 1-5 start to a playoff win and a chance to take on the defending Super Bowl champions in their house for a place in the AFC title game, the Chiefs earned the opportunity to take their shot on Saturday—they just came up short.
The Chiefs had their opportunities against the Patriots, and that might be what stings the most about the loss, but they showed everyone exactly the kind of resiliency that got them here in the first place.
When they got down early, they answered.
Ultimately, it wasn't enough, but that doesn't change the fact that the Chiefs accomplished a lot of great things this season and the arrow is still pointing in the right direction for this franchise.
They'll just need to build on this moving forward.
2. Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are as good as advertised
Coming into Saturday's game, there was a lot of talk about Julian Edelman's return to the Patriots offense after missing the last couple of months with a foot injury. He was Brady's favorite target before his injury, catching 61 passes for 692 yards with 7 touchdowns in just nine games.
Gronkowski had reportedly been dealing with both knee and back issues this week, but despite all of those things, he and Edelman made plays for Brady on Saturday, combining for 17 catches for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Brady finished the game 28 of 42 for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns.
3. Jason Avant stepped up on Saturday
Before Saturday's game, Jason Avant's best game of the season had come back on October 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals, against whom he caught 4 passes for 43 yards.
But he surpassed that with a couple of unbelievable catches for the Chiefs offense in this game, leading them with 4 catches for 69 yards.
With veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin being hampered throughout the week with an ankle injury, which he tried his best to play through on Saturday, Avant stepped up and made some plays when it was needed for the Chiefs offense.
4. Patriots get on the board first
After an 11-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski, the Patriots had an early 7-0 lead after their first offensive drive.
The Chiefs defense had forced three third downs on the opening drive, including a third-and-13, but Brady was able to find the open receiver when the Chiefs tried to bring pressure, and the Patriots were able to convert for a first down each time.
Brady began the game 8 of 11 for 80 yards and a touchdown after that first drive.
5. Chiefs convert four third downs on opening offensive drive
The question all week was whether or not Maclin would play in this game, as he was dealing with a high-ankle sprain suffered last week against the Texans, but he showed everyone what he's about and played through the pain as long as he could.
It didn't take long for his presence to be felt once he was on the field.
After the Chiefs fell into an early 7-0 hole, the offense quickly faced a third-and-8 on their own side of the field.
Maclin fought off press coverage and got inside of the defender. Smith found him across the middle of the field for an 11-yard gain to keep the chains moving for the Chiefs offense.
Later in the drive, the Chiefs were staring at a third-and-13, and that's when Smith showed us something that we've been accustomed to seeing from him throughout this 11-game winning streak—his ability to scramble and pick up first downs with his legs.
He scrambled for 15 yards and set up Cairo Santos' 34-yard field goal to put the Chiefs on the board after their first offensive drive.
The Chiefs converted their first four third-down attempts.
6. Patriots march 98 yards on 11 plays for second touchdown
On a drive that began at their 2-yard line because of an unnecessary roughness call on Patriots receiver Danny Amendola, who took a cheap shot to the head of cornerback Jamell Fleming as he was attempting to down a punt, the Patriots offense was backed up deep in their own territory.
But Brady and the Patriots offense drove 98 yards on 11 plays after the penalty, and the 1-yard touchdown run from Brady would give the Patriots a 14-3 lead late in the second quarter.
7. Turnover leads to 7 points for the Patriots midway through the third quarter
In a one-possession game and with the offense driving on the Patriots, running back Knile Davis caught a pass across the middle. As he was fighting to pick up extra yards, the ball came loose just inches before he was down and the Patriots recovered the fumble.
On the ensuing drive, the Patriots gained 10-plus yards on five consecutive plays and Gronkowski grabbed his second touchdown of the day to finish the drive, and the Patriots took a 21-6 lead midway through the third quarter.
8. Smith finds Avant for the best play of the season
We've seen Smith scramble before, but the play he made in the third quarter of Saturday's game on his 26-yard completion to Avant was on a whole other level.
It was the best play of the season for the Chiefs and it will show up on many highlight reels for years to come, not only because of Smith's ability to scramble, duck and dodge the Patriots defenders, but also because of the throw-and-catch.
Avant high-pointed the ball over a defender in front of the Chiefs bench and the 26-yard reception was exactly what the Chiefs offense needed at the time.
They showed signs of life.
9. Smith finds Wilson for a 10-yard touchdown
With the Chiefs trailing 21-6 late in the third quarter and just a few plays after Smith found Avant for 26 yards, Smith would once again go to the air, and this time he'd find a sliding Albert Wilson in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.
They weren't going to go away that easily.
Smith went 5 of 7 for 61 yards and a touchdown on that drive.
10. Sean Smith, Marcus Peters and Tamba Hali nearly have interceptions
The Chiefs defense has thrived on interceptions and turnovers this season, and they had a few opportunities in this game to make a big play on defense.
Smith, Peters and Hali all had their hands on the ball with the chance to make game-changing plays on defense, and it's something that ultimately becomes the difference when you're playing against the defending Super Bowl champions.
The margin of error is small, and the Chiefs couldn't quite overcome some of the mistakes they made and some of the plays they didn't.
11. Alex Smith's toughness was on display again
As if there was any question before, anyone watching Saturday's game understood the toughness Smith brings to this football team.
He took hit after hit and he kept getting up, running for first downs when they were there and refusing to protect his body at all costs. By game's end, he hit 10 different receivers for receptions.
After leading the Chiefs to a late touchdown that brought them to within one possession, Santos' attempted onside kick was recovered by the Patriots.
Smith finished the game 29 of 50 for 246 yards and a touchdown.
12. The future looks bright for the Chiefs
It's going to take some time to get over the lost opportunity the Chiefs had to beat the Patriots on Saturday, but the overwhelming storyline through all of it was that the Chiefs earned the right to play this game by the way they played the majority of the season.
They have seen the bar.
That's what the Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions and a team whose quarterback is 15-3 at home in the postseason, represent.
The Chiefs have a young roster that's full of talent and one playoff win doesn't satisfy them, but it's something this organization hasn't seen in more than 20 years.
Things are looking up, even if it's tough to see right now because the loss is still fresh in our minds.
Photos of the game action from the Chiefs vs. Patriots Divisional Playoff game.