The Patriots are in the AFC Championship Game. What else is new?
It marks the seventh consecutive year New England is in the conference title game. The last time Tom Brady and the Patriots weren’t Mark Sanchez and the Jets were as they beat New England 28-21 in the divisional round in 2010. The Patriots’ streak is greater than the total title game appearances of 21 other franchises.
Saturday’s game was close for a quarter . . . and then it wasn’t.
After Tennessee took a 7-0 lead, the Patriots outscored the Titans 35-0 before a late Tennessee touchdown. New England easily covered the 13 1/2-point spread with a 35-14 victory and total domination. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Patriots had 30 first downs to the Titans’ 39 plays.
The Patriots ended up outgaining the Titans 438 to 267. New England ran 80 plays and had 31 first downs.
Brady completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns as he set an NFL record with his 10th career postseason game with three touchdown passes. Danny Amendola had his first career 100-yard receiving game, catching 11 passes for 112 yards. James White scored two touchdowns, and Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski each had one.
Since 2001, the Patriots are 37-1 when they have at least five sacks in a game.
Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
New England now has qualified for the AFC Championship Game in 12 of the 16 years with Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm.
And for the fifth time in seven years, the Patriots will host the AFC title game. The winner of the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game will travel to New England next week with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.