The New England Patriots never fail to perform, making a comeback in the AFC Championship with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With an overall win of 24-20, the Patriots head off to the Superbowl for their eighth time in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
At the start of the game the Jaguars were quick to move, jumping ahead with a 14-3 lead over the Patriots in the second quarter. The Jaguars had a pair of lengthy, ball-control drives of 76 and 77 yards, which ultimately led to touchdowns in the second quarter. The Jaguars’ key to attacking the Patriots offense was of course running back Leonard Fournette, who was one of only three players on Jacksonville who averaged more than 20 rushing attempts per game. On top of that, quarterback Blake Bortles excelled early, opening up opportunities for the Jaguars. Bortles finished with 23 completions on 36 attempts for 293 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Bortles made one of the best throws of the game when he hit Keelan Cole with a back shoulder throw about 30 yards down the field. He also did particularly well off play action, including his four-yard touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis.
The Jaguars were also able to get an early turnover. With the Patriots driving, New England dialed up a double pass trick play that appeared to work to perfection. But Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack made one of the plays of the game by ripping the ball from Dion Lewis and recovering the fumble.
The Patriots faced some setbacks, trying to close the gap and succeeding just before halftime with an 85yard touchdown drive. Brady was Brady, completing 26 of his 38 passes for 290 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Unlike the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars brought much more of a pass rush, which Brady had to deal with. Disrupting Brady is key, and even though the Jaguars proved to be aggressive in the beginning, they were unable to hold off the Patriots offense.
In the fourth quarter the Patriots still faced a ten point deficit, to which Tom Brady did what he always does. Brady threw two touchdowns to Danny Amendola, giving the Patriots a 24-20 lead with less than three minutes to go in the game. Amendola’s final catch included some pretty impressive footwork in the end zone which led to an eruption of Patriots fans. Amendola finished the game with seven receptions for 84 yards against the Jaguars secondary and Brandin Cooks found success too with six receptions for 100 yards.
With a victory in hand the Patriots go on to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 Super Bowl.
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