Art Martone

Not this time: Eagles' late rally defeats Patriots

Not this time: Eagles' late rally defeats Patriots

Not this time.

Everything seemed set up for another miracle Patriots finish. They trailed, 38-33, but they had the ball on their own 25-yard line with 2:25 to play. Their offense had rolled to three touchdowns in three possessions in the second half. It looked like, one year after they set the standard for Super Bowl comebacks, they were going to do it yet again and win their third championship in four years with a fourth-quarter rally.

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And then . . . 

On a second-and-two from their own 33, Brady went back to throw. But he was strip-sacked by Brandon Graham, the ball came loose, the Eagles recovered, and the Patriots' reign atop the National Football League was over. The Eagles added a field goal from Jake Elliott and Brady was faced with a rabbit -- 91 yards from the end zone with less than a minute to play and no time outs -- that he couldn't pull out of his hat. (Though, like in Super Bowl 46 against the Giants, they came within a barely-missed Hail Mary as time expired from having a chance to tie the score.) The result was a 41-33 Philadelphia victory that gave the Eagles their first-ever Super Bowl title and prevented the five-time-champ Pats from tying the Steelers for most Super Bowl crowns.

The strip-sack of Brady tarnished a brilliant performance by the 40-year-old quarterback. He threw for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns and guided the Pats back from deficits of 15-3, 22-12 and 29-22. 

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The Pats defense, however, was not nearly as brilliant. The 41 points New England allowed were more than the Pats allowed in any Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick era. They also surrendered 613 total yards, including 373 through the air to MVP Nick Foles. LeGarrette Blount, a former Patriots running back, rushed 14 times for 90 yards and touchdown.

The Patriots offense did its part. It didn't punt and had no turnovers through three quarters. After playing from behind most of the night, Brady gave New England its first lead of the game, 33-32 on a four-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski with 9:22 to play.

But on the ensuing drive -- during which the Eagles converted a fourth-and-one near midfield that, had the Pats made a stop, would have all but clinched the victory for New England -- Devin McCourty couldn't keep Zach Ertz from stretching the ball across the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown reception from Foles that wound up being the game winner.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Brady leads Patriots to come-from-behind win over Jaguars

Brady leads Patriots to come-from-behind win over Jaguars

FOXBORO -- They fell behind 14-3 in the second quarter. They were trailing by 10, 20-10, early in the fourth quarter. A 10th AFC championship and a 10th trip to the Super Bowl seemed . . .  what? Out of reach?

Not to anyone who's watched the New England Patriots over the last 17 years, it didn't.

PATRIOTS 24, JAGUARS 20

Tom Brady, playing despite what he described as "a pretty good cut" on his right hand, rallied the Patriots yet again from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Danny Amendola, the last with 2:48 left, and lifted the Patriots to a 24-20 victory over Jacksonville that punched their ticket to Super Bowl 52.

"Well, I said, 'We'll see,' " Brady told the crowd, referring to terse comments he'd made at his press conference Friday when asked if the injury would affect him. "So how'd it go?"

Like it usually does for Brady and the Patriots.

The quarterback, playing with black tape covering the cut, completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and the two touchdowns as he led the Pats to a come-from-begind victory . . . same as he did in Super Bowl 51 against Atlanta, Super Bowl 49 against Seattle, the 2014 AFC Division Round against Baltimore, the 2006 Divisional Round against San Diego, Super Bowl 38 against Carolina and the 2001 Divisional Round against Oakland.

In tribute, the Gillette stadium crew blared the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" over the P.A. system as he left the podium and headed to the locker room.

With Minneapolis the next stop.

 

 

 

Five quick thoughts: Patriots nail down top seed

Five quick thoughts: Patriots nail down top seed

FOXBORO -- Some quick observations from the Patriots' 26-6 victory over the Jets, which gave them the No. 1 seed in the upcoming AFC playoffs . . . 

PATRIOTS 26, JETS 6

1. The Patriots' offense had some help from the Jets' shoddy secondary or the over-officious referees , . . take your pick. The Pats increased their lead from 7-3 to 21-3 with two second-quarter scoring drives, and both greatly benefitted from generous calls. The first was a defensive holding call on Juston Burris away from the play, turning an incomplete pass on third-and-10 (and a certain Patriots punt) into a first down. Five plays later, a could-have-been-flagged-could-have-been-ignored pass-interference call on Marcus Maye moved the ball from the Pats' 44 to the Jets' 17, and New England scored four plays later to increase its lead to 14-3. On the next drive, another defensive holding call on Burris turned a third-down incompletion into a first down at the Jets' 26, setting up a Tom Brady-to-Dion Lewis touchdown pass with 24 seconds left that made the score 21-3.

2. As one door closes, another opens. The Jets decided to take Rob Gronkowski out of the Patriots' offense and they did so successfully; the double-teamed Gronk didn't get so much as a target from Brady. Instead the Pats' main offensive weapon became Lewis, and what a weapon he was -- 26 carries for 93 yards, 6 catches for 40 yards, and two touchdowns.,

3. So much for the Patriots' defensive problems on third down. The Pats' well-chronicled woes in getting off the field on third down completely disappeared today. The Jets failed to convert a third down in -- count 'em -- 12 attempts, mainly because the Patriots had them in third-and-long for a good part of the afternoon. (They did, however, convert a fourth-down attempt in garbage time in the final two minutes.)

4. The road -- once again -- goes through Foxboro. The Steelers were so certain the Pats would dispatch the Jets that they sat many of their key players -- Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell among them -- for their finale against the Browns, even though their only hope of wresting the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs away from the Patriots was to beat Cleveland while New England was losing to New York. None of that happened, of course; the Steelers beat the Browns anyway (and saddled Cleveland with the second 0-16 season in NFL history) and the Pats, of course, took care of business against the Jets. So for the second straight season, the third time in the last four years, and the sixth time in the last eight years, the Patriots will be at home throughout the AFC playoffs. Only once (in 2010, when they lost to Rex Ryan's Jets in the divisional round) have they failed to get to the AFC Championship Game as the No. 1 seed, only once have they lost an AFC Championship Game in Foxboro (in 2012, to the Ravens), and they've gotten to three Super Bowls over that span. And won two.

5. And finally . . . James Harrison punctuated his Patriots debut with two sacks. You can be sure that won't go unnoticed in Pittsburgh.

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