Tom Brady and the Patriots are headed to Minneapolis.
New England defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium, coming back from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit. Danny Amendola caught the go-ahead touchdown with 2:48 remaining in the game. The Pats will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, New England’s third trip to the big game in four years.
The Patriots drew first blood with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal after a promising opening drive stalled out. The Jaguars responded with 14 unanswered points after the teams traded punts, as Leonard Fournette put them up 7-3 and Blake Bortles followed up with a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis.
After three straight punts, the Patriots finally found the end zone with just 55 seconds left in the second quarter. Benefitting from two costly penalties to the Jaguars defense – an unnecessary roughness penalty on Jags safety Barry Church and a long pass interference call on A.J. Bouye – James White easily ran it in to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 14-10.
However, the Jaguars continued to move the ball efficiently on offense into the third quarter. Josh Lambo snuck 53-yard field goal between the uprights to put the Jags up 17-10 by the end of the quarter. He made another from 43 yards early in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 20-10.
And that’s when Brady’s usual playoff magic took over. Echoing the Patriots’ 10-point comeback against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Brady authored two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to put the Patriots up 24-20. First, Phillip Dorsett sparked the Pats with a 31-yard catch on a flea-flicker and New England eventually found the end zone with Amendola. Then, No. 80 came up big again with an impressive catch in the back of the end zone on a similar play to his fourth-quarter TD in the Seattle Super Bowl.
The Jaguars moved into Patriots territory on their final offensive drive of the game. But on fourth-and-15, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore made his biggest play of the season when he broke up a well-thrown pass to Dede Westbrook.
After going up 20-10, the Jaguars’ drives went punt, punt, punt, and turnover on downs.
Jacksonville had a chance to get the ball back with under two minutes remaining if they got a stop on the Patriots. But Dion Lewis was able to break free for an 18-yard run on 3rd-and-9 to allow Brady to kneel the clock out.
Brady will play in the eighth Super Bowl of his 18-year career, taking a 5-2 record in the big game to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.