Patriots rally from 10 down to top Jags and win AFC title
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Tom Brady capped a game-winning drive with a 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining to send the New England Patriots back to the Super Bowl with a 24-20 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.
Brady, who was questionable for the game with a right hand injury, showed no ill effects and completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, including the big one on the Pats' five-play, 30-yard drive in the final minutes.
Jacksonville faced a fourth-and-15 after driving to the Patriots' 43-yard-line, but Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' deep toss down the sideline to Dede Westbrook was broken up by Stephon Gilmore.
Amendola finished with seven catches for 84 yards and two scores for the Patriots, who extended their own NFL record with an unprecedented 10th trip to the Super Bowl.
Last year, New England erased a 28-3 deficit against Atlanta to beat the Falcons 34-28 and claim their fifth championship.
Bortles threw for 293 yards (23-of-36) and a touchdown and Leonard Fournette rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries to lead the Jaguars.
Jacksonville was playing in its third-ever AFC title game and its first since 1999.
Josh Lambo's 54-yard field goal at 10:23 of the third quarter and another from 43 yards at 14:52 of the fourth bumped Jacksonville's lead to 20-10.
Brady led New England down the field quickly and hit Amendola for a 9-yard touchdown with 8:44 to go to bring the Pats within three.
Bortles marched the Jaguars down the field 76 yards and found a wide-open Marcedes Lewis for a 4-yard touchdown pass at 14:15 of the second quarter, making it 7-3.
With 7:06 to play in the quarter, Fournette's 4-yard rushing score capped a 77-yard drive to extend Jacksonville's lead to 14-3.
Rob Gronkowski's 21-yard catch on the second play of ensuing drive moved him past Dallas Clark into first place on the NFL's all-time postseason receiving yardage list for a tight end.
Minutes later, Gronkowski left the game with a head injury after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church at the Jacksonville 40-yard line with 1:23 remaining before halftime.
Although Gronkowski was deemed questionable to return, he never did.
Church was flagged for unnecessary roughness, helping to set up a 1-yard TD run by James White three plays later to bring the Patriots within four at the break.
New England led 3-0 after one quarter.