FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots machine rolls on.
Regardless of all of the distractions, it was enterprise as traditional for the Patriots as they returned to the AFC Championship Sport for the seventh consecutive season by beating the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Saturday at frigid Gillette Stadium.
The consequence got here after per week during which an ESPN The Journal report detailed friction between coach Invoice Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and proprietor Robert Kraft, and had every of the “Large Three” answering questions on it. By Tuesday morning, Belichick had felt the necessity to reset the agenda and mentioned, “At this level, I’m all-in on Tennessee. I’ll reply any questions concerning the Titans, however that’s it.”
Belichick was all-in, and his staff — after a slower-than-desired begin — was everywhere in the Titans on Saturday.
From the wild-card spherical via Tremendous Bowl LII in Minneapolis, ESPN.com has the playoffs coated.
“It’s important to maintain ignoring noise on the surface,” Patriots tight finish Rob Gronkowski mentioned postgame on NBC, “and simply maintain working each time you stroll within the constructing and simply maintain grinding.”
Falling behind 7-Zero within the first quarter, they ripped off 35 factors in a row, and by the beginning of the fourth quarter — when Brady transformed a ridiculous across-the-field, high-arcing throw to transform a third-and-10 state of affairs to clutch receiver Danny Amendola (first profession 100-yard receiving recreation within the playoffs) — the bone-chilled-but-delirious crowd was chanting “MVP! MVP! MVP!”
It was a classic Brady efficiency, because the 40-year-old decisively answered the query as as to if his December efficiency — which wasn’t up his traditional excessive normal — was maybe an indication of him lastly beginning to present his age.
Brady completed 35-of-53 for 337 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It marked Brady’s 10th profession postseason recreation with three landing passes, which broke a tie together with his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, for essentially the most in NFL historical past. Brady additionally prolonged his personal playoff report for 300-yard passing video games, together with his 13th.
Upping the tempo within the second quarter in the end was the change that turned the sport round, as Brady and the Patriots pounced on the Titans with a fast-paced assault. The fireplace and keenness with which Brady performed was notably evident late within the third quarter after a 2-yard landing run by Brandon Bolden, after which Brady raised his arms within the air after which delivered an emphatic fist pump.
In the meantime, on protection, robust play on early downs towards the run arrange extra long-yardage conditions on third down for the Titans, and the cross rush seemed as disruptive because it had all season. The staff’s eight sacks established a Patriots postseason report.
In advancing to their seventh straight AFC Championship Sport, the Patriots lengthen their very own report, which that they had set final season after they handed the Oakland Raiders, who superior to 5 straight from 1973-77.
They’ll host the winner of Sunday’s recreation between the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers subsequent Sunday (three:05 p.m. ET).