Hand That Rocks NFL Brady Directs March, Sews Up Another Crown

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), January 22, 2018 | Go to article overview

Hand That Rocks NFL Brady Directs March, Sews Up Another Crown


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Give them a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining, rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship at Gillette Stadium.

Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play in practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.

And, with the game - and the season - possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola for the Patriots (15-3), who will play the Philadelphia Eagles Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times - including a 34-28 overtime rally a year ago against the Atlanta Falcons.

"It's pretty amazing. Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it's just a great accomplishment," Brady said. "I'm just so proud of everyone on our team, we made so many great plays. Defense played so great when they needed to."

Blake Bortles and the Jaguars (12-7) led, 20-10, early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions. The NFL's second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England's winning drive.

"It's a locker room obviously with a lot of pain," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "I'm sure they're hurting inside. I'm hurting. The players are hurting."

With New England trailing, 20-17, Amendola returned a punt 20 yards to put the ball at the Jaguars 30. Brady hit James White for 15 yards, Amendola for 8 and then the quarterback ran up the middle for 2 yards and a first down.

On first-and-goal from the 5, White ran for 1 yard to set up the go-ahead score from Brady to Amendola.

Jacksonville - looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history - had one more shot, but Bortles' throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.

"Guys are upset," Bortles said. "It's not what anybody expects - contrary to popular belief. Those guys fully expected to win that game."

The Patriots ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis' 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they played most of the game without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left late in the first half and didn't return. …

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