The New England Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl after a 37-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, but that's not really news.
What is––at least around here––is that former Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead scored twice to send the Patriots to their ninth Super Bowl since 2001.
Burkhead, in his sixth NFL season, scored his first career playoff touchdown a week ago in the Patriots' 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. His two against the Chiefs were even bigger.
The first capped off a six-play, 60-yard drive to give New England a 31-28 lead late in the game. Down four, the Patriots took over at their own 35 with 1:57 left. Tom Brady then did Tom Brady things, completing 3-of-4 passes, the last completion a 25-yarder on third-and-5 to tight end Rob Gronkowski. An offside penalty on Kansas City on the previous play wiped out a Brady interception. With first-and-goal at the Chiefs' 4, New England called Burkhead's number and he plowed ahead for the touchdown.
Kansas City answered with a four-play, 48-yard drive resulting in a field goal that sent the game to overtime.
New England won the toss to start overtime, took the ball and set out for the end zone. The Chiefs put the Patriots in three third-and-10s on the drive that followed. New England converted all of them, the first two on completions from Brady to wide receiver Julian Edelman, the third on another Gronkowski grab to set up first-and-10 at the Kansas City 15.
From there it was all Burkhead. He carried for 10 yards to the Chiefs' 5, 3 yards to the 2 and then polished off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. It was the fourth multi-touchdown game of Burkhead's career. He had one with Cincinnati, the team that drafted him, in 2016 and two with the Patriots in 2017. Eight of Burkhead's 16 career NFL touchdowns have given his team the lead.
Rex Burkhead sends the Patriots to the Super Bowl. #Huskers pic.twitter.com/fnt5vbYTWG
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) January 21, 2019
Burkhead totaled 41 rushing yards on 12 carries, adding four catches (on four targets) for 23 yards. He will be making his second career Super Bowl appearance after carrying three times and making one catch in the Patriots' 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last year in Super Bowl LII.
He'll face another beloved former Husker in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3. Ndamukong Suh and the Los Angeles Rams beat New Orleans 26-23 in overtime earlier on Sunday to punch their ticket. Suh had four tackles, including 1.5 sacks, in the win and will be making his first Super Bowl appearance.
Have yourself a day, #Huskers❗️@NdamukongSuh
» 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits@RBrex34
» 4 rec, 64 total yds, 2 TD
Next stop: Atlanta 🏆👀#ProBigRed | #NFLPlayoffs
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) January 21, 2019
Need more Cornhusker State connections? The Rams won on an overtime field goal from Lincoln-native Greg Zuerlein, who graduated from Lincoln Pius X and played college football at Missouri Western and Nebraska-Omaha.
Nebraska has had at least one player on a Super Bowl roster every year since 1993.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.