Jan. 28, 2018
AFC Championship Game Recap + Takeaways
The New England Patriots are now AFC champions! They beat the Jaguars 24-20 and this will be Brady’s 8th super bowl appearance. They came back after being down 10 points heading into the 4th quarter. The Patriots organization becomes the first NFL to reach 10 super bowls. Jacksonville played a great game and was able to shut down Brady and Gronk with a great pass rush and safety shadowing him. The Jaguars contained the run game as the Patriots ran for 46 yards. The Jaguars were great on 3rd down as the Patriots went 3 for 12 on 3rd downs. Blake Bortles played one of his best games as he did not turn over the ball and passed for 298 yards, which was more than Brady. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked like Jacksonville would win the AFC championship. However, once again the Patriots proved that you must play the full 60 minutes in Gillette Stadium. They outscored the Jaguars 14-3 in the 4th quarter and won the game. There are many reasons why the Patriots were able to win the game. First of all, the Patriots did a good job of not revealing too much of their playbook in the first half. In the first quarter, they showed a new look as they sometimes lined up Devlin as a wideout. Once the Jaguars adjusted to this, the Patriots decided to use trick plays as a double pass (which led to a fumble) and a flea flicker both gained substantial yardage. The New England wide receivers did a great job of creating pass interference calls that saved many of their drives. The Patriots defense stepped up in the 4th quarter as the Jaguars only gained 62 yards. They also put pressure in the 4th on Bortles, which caused the Jaguars to punt for 3 straight possessions. Belichick was able to overcome the loss of Gronk and create a new game plan. He utilized Amendola in the 2nd half by making run routes in the middle of the zone because he was able to easily get around linebackers. Amendola stepped up catching two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. Brandin Cooks was great as he had 6 receptions for 100 yards. Kyle Van Noy had a huge sack that stopped the Jaguars from driving down the field and Dion Lewis put the nail in the coffin when he ran for a 1st down to seal the game. Brady’s hand did not look liked it affected him as he threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. For most of the game, Brady was forced to throw short passes as he was under so much pressure. The main reason the Patriots won was because of experience. The Jaguars had 6 penalties and a total of 98 penalty yards. This allowed New England to stay in the game as these penalties usually saved some of New England’s drives and led to 7 points for the Patriots at the end of the 1st half, which ended up being a big play in the game. Also, the offense of Jacksonville did not handle their lead very well as they thought playing conservative would work against New England, proving again that they were inexperienced. At the end of the day, two minute Tom proved again why he is the best quarterback in the league with one of his greatest comebacks ever. The Patriots will now wait to see if they face the Minnesota Vikings or the Philadelphia Eagles.