They did it! The New England Patriots just defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars to not just claim the NFL’s AFC title, but to earn a shot at winning the Super Bowl!
With temperatures predicted to be in the mid-40s in Foxborough, Massachusetts, (which is considered warm for this time of year), both the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars had to face the chill of winter for this Jan. 21 game. Yet, the action inside of Gillette Stadium was red hot. One on side of the field, it was the hometown heroes. On the other side, it was the trash-talking upstarts. After four quarters, it was the Patriots who emerged victorious, clinching the American Football Conference title with a final score of 24-20. They’ll now head to Minneapolis to play in Super Bowl 52!
Once again, Tom Brady, 40, proved that he’s one of the all-time greats by helping rally his team out of a 3-point deficit with just 3 minutes left to play. But, although the Patriots came out victorious, in many ways the Jaguars were in command for the majority of the game. With some incredible running from Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville maintained a lead over the reigning NFL champs. However, Brady and his team were absolutely unstoppable by the 3rd quarter. It was a throw to wide receiver Danny Amendola that lent them their victory, as well as their only lead in the game.
At this point, it would be shocking if the Patriots didn’t make the AFC Championship game. Since 2001, around when Brady took over as the starting quarterback, the Pats have shown up in 12 of the 17 title games. This appearance against the Jags was the Patriots’ seventh consecutive conference championship title game! The Patriots – to nobody’s surprise – clinched the No. 1 seed in AFC that gave them not just a bye week but home field advantage. They rested as the Tennessee Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, before dispatching the Titans, 35-14. However, Pats fans were given a scare when Tom reportedly injured his hand during practice on Jan. 17.
Tom and the Patriots didn’t elaborate on the extent of the injury, to the point where Tom wore gloves during a press conference. Michael Felger of the “Felger & Massarotti” show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, said that there was “No fracture. No ligament. Just a cut from hitting the buckle on someone’s helmet. Four stitches around the knuckle, should not affect him,” according to NESN. Pats haters hoped the injury was worse of that, while Pats fans put their Super Bowl hopes in Tom’s hands.
While the Pats had a bye week at the start of the playoffs, the Jaguars clawed their way past the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card before shocking the Pittsburgh Steelers in the quarterfinals. The Jags jumped to a 21-0 lead over Pittsburgh, who rallied back in the second half. Jacksonville held off the surging Steelers to clinch the 45-42 win. Yet, the fact that they allowed Pittsburgh to score 42 points made the Jags defense look like it was built out of swiss cheese.
“You don’t know what happens in playoff games,” running back Leonard Fournette said, per ESPN. “They kept on fighting throughout the duration. We just knew every time they scored we had to come back and score. We needed to help our defense gather their breaths and just outscore them.” That’s probably not a good strategy going up against a quarterback like Tom Brady, right?
The winner of this game will have to see if they’ll face the Minnesota Vikings or the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl (which takes place on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)
Who do you want to win the Super Bowl, HollywoodLifers?