Eagles

Patriots reach 7th straight AFC title game

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Patriots reach 7th straight AFC title game

BOX SCORE

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards, and the New England Patriots cruised past the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Saturday night to advance to their seventh consecutive AFC championship game.

New England (14-3) will host the winner of Sunday's divisional matchup between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.

It was Brady's 10th career postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yards.

The Titans (10-8) took an early 7-0 lead, but New England scored 35 straight points to take control.

Marcus Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, but was under duress for most of the second half. He was sacked eight times, a Patriots playoff record. New England also held Derrick Henry to just 28 yards rushing on 12 carries.

New England's victory came on the heels of a week filled with drama following reports of turmoil involving Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

None of that showed on the field Saturday.

"It definitely sounds crazy. But you have to keep ignoring the noise on the outside, just keep working every time you walk into the building and just keep grinding," tight end Rob Gronkowski said of how his team handled the media firestorm this week.

The Titans came back from an 18-point deficit in the second half to beat the Chiefs 22-21 in the wild-card round last week - the largest comeback on the road in the Super Bowl era. But the Patriots didn't give them a chance for an encore.

Leading 14-7, the Patriots stretched their lead to 14 just before halftime thanks to a trio of careless penalties on the Titans.

Tennessee initially forced a three-and-out, but gave up a first down via a fourth-and-5 neutral zone infraction on Brynden Trawick before New England's punt attempt.

Armed with a new set of downs, Brady went to work moving the Patriots down the field with a steady diet of short passes. The Titans helped along the way with illegal contact and unnecessary roughness penalties. It eventually culminated in a 4-yard TD pass from Brady to Chris Hogan in the back of the end zone that made it 21-7.

Brady threw a short shovel pass to White, who ran it in from the 5-yard line to make it 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Patriots appeared to have a touchdown three plays earlier, when Dion Lewis caught a pass from Brady and was tackled by Wesley Woodyard at the 19. Lewis landed on top of the defender, then got up and continued to the end zone.

The officials initially ruled that he had never been down and called it a touchdown. But replays showed Lewis' butt hit the ground at the 19.

Corey Davis made a one-handed catch on a 15-yard pass from Mariota in the corner of the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead. Mariota had a pair of 11-yard runs to help set up the score.

Davis added an 11-yard TD reception with 1:55 left in the game - and the Titans' season.

Injuries
Titans: Right tackle Jack Conklin walked off on his own power after injuring a knee in the first quarter. He did not return. ... Tight end Jonnu Smith was carted off in the third quarter with a right leg injury.

Patriots: Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle left the with a knee injury early in the third quarter. ... Cornerback Jonathan Jones was helped off the field late in the fourth quarter.

Unforced errors
The Titans had 85 penalties in the regular season - the second-fewest in the NFL.

They were flagged 10 times for 62 yards on Saturday, just the second time they had 10 or more this season.

Moving on up
Gronkowski finished with six catches for 81 yards and touchdown. It was his 10th career postseason TD. He's tied with five others for third all-time. But it's the most for a tight end.

Gronk also moved into second all-time for a tight end with 835 postseason receiving yards. He passed Keith Jackson, and only Dallas Clark is ahead of him.

Up Next
The Patriots will play the winner of Sunday's matchup between the Jaguars and Steelers in the AFC championship game.

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

The Super Bowl champion Eagles face a multitude of tough decisions this offseason. 

The toughest is what to do with Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. With franchise QB Carson Wentz recovering from a serious knee injury, the situation becomes more complicated.

Longtime NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian essentially thinks Foles is untouchable.

Two first-round and two second-round picks would be a doozy of an offer for a quarterback who has one year left under contract. But that speaks to how highly Polian values Foles and the idea of having a top-notch backup QB on a contending team.

Former Eagles LB turned TV host Dhani Jones is in the same boat as Polian, saying he believes that Foles should be the starter, even if Wentz is healthy by Week 1.

Check out Jones' opinion in the video above.

Key staff member of 19 years leaves Eagles

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Key staff member of 19 years leaves Eagles

While the Eagles have been figuring out their new-look coaching staff, one of the more important people in the NovaCare Complex is leaving.

Head athletic trainer Chris Peduzzi announced on Tuesday that he is stepping down from his role with the team.

"We thank Chris for his contributions over the last 19 seasons and we wish him and his family all the best," the Eagles said in a statement.

Peduzzi took over as head trainer after Rick Burkholder went to Kansas City with Andy Reid in 2013. But Peduzzi had been with the Eagles in some capacity since 1999, when he joined the franchise as an assistant trainer.

“It has been an honor and a blessing to be part of this organization for the past 19 seasons,” Peduzzi said in a statement released by the Eagles. “I especially want to thank Mr. Lurie for his faith in me to care for the health of his players. I never took that lightly. I also want to thank Coach Pederson and Howie Roseman for the opportunity. I have had the pleasure of working alongside so many great people, from my staff and co-workers to our coaches and of course the players. More than anything, I am going to miss those daily interactions.

"However, I do believe the time is right for me and for my family to step away and take some time off. This was not an easy decision, but one that I have put much thought into and I appreciate the organization’s support and wish them all the best in the future. I am so proud of what we have been able to achieve together. To bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia this year was an amazing experience and I believe we have built a strong foundation that the team can continue to build on for years to come.”