NFL: 2018 AFC Champion, Patriots heading to Super Bowl 52

Yes, the Patriots did win the AFC Championship…again. In their seventh straight appearance in the game, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick did what they seemingly always do–walk away with a spot in the Super Bowl. The Jaguars did themselves proud, fighting until the last drive against the best team in football, but fell short as Blake Bortles and the offense got put in a tough 4th down spot.

Here’s a recap:

After falling behind 3-0 after the first drive, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense held the high-flying offense of the New England defense to just 10-points in the first half. Following the opening drive FG, the Jaguars put together two consecutive 75+ yard drives to lead 14-3 midway through the second quarter.

Leaving too much time on the clock before half, the stingy defense of the Jaguars did what they could to stall the Patriots, but Brady led a 6-play, 85 yard drive to score with less than a minute before halftime. Up 14-10 with a minute left in the first half, the Jaguars took a knee and rode their advantage into the locker room in Foxborough. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured on the drive and wouldn’t return.

The second half was a completely different game for both teams. With the ball out of halftime, the Jaguars looked to push the ball downfield and drive into Patriots territory. A 9-play, 39 yard drive ended in only three points for the Jags as Josh Lambo hit a 54-yard FG, the only points for either team in the third quarter.

Leading 17-10 after three quarters, Bortles and the Jaguars were in position to hold their advantage and seal the game. Holding Tom Brady and the Patriots to zero points in the third, the Jags took their next possession 11-plays, 66 yards in nearly five minutes to get another Lambo FG, to make the score 20-10 with one quarter remaining.

Enter playoff Tom Brady.

To this point, Brady had thrown for 152 yards and no touchdowns. Brady is not new to playing from behind. Just last year, the Brady-led Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. If anyone can comeback and win big games, it’s Brady and Belichick.

The Jaguars scored their last points, the Lambo FG to take the 20-10 lead, with 14:52 left in the game. Aside from an early fumble, the Patriots owned the fourth quarter.

Tallying 138 more yards, Brady was on another level. With 10 stitches in his throwing hand all game, from an injury earlier this week, Brady finished the game with a solid stat line. Nothing new for him in the playoffs.

After surrendering two touchdowns in the last nine minutes, the Jaguars had the ball and a shot to earn their spot in Super Bowl 52. Down 24-20 just before the two minute warning, the Bortles got the ball on his own 25-yardline but had a long way to go. Needing 75 yards to win the game, Bortles threw for 41 yards but was sacked for seven yards on second down to the Patriots 45 yardline. On the sack, Bortles lost the ball, but luckily one of his linemen recovered for a loss of nine total yards on the play.

Coming out of the two-minute warning, the Jags faced a tough 3rd and 19 from the New England 47. Bortles dumped off a short pass and his receiver, James O’Shaughnessy, managed only four yards, leading to a 4th and 15.

On his last play of the season, Blake Bortles took a shot to receiver Dede Westbrook downfield. In an amazing effort, Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore got a hand above Westbrook to break up the play and sink the hopes of the Jaguars.

The exciting game finished with a score of 24-20 with the Patriots claiming the AFC spot in Super Bowl 52.

Major Statistical Impact:

                       Patriots:  24                                                                Jaguars: 20
QB: T. Brady 26/38, 290 yds, 2 TD                           QB: B. Bortles 23/36, 293 yds, 1 TD
RB: D. Lewis 9 car, 34 yds, 7 rec, 32 yds                 RB: L. Fournette 24 car, 76 yds, 1 TD
WR: B. Cooks 6 rec, 100 yds                                      RB: C. Grant 3 rec, 59 yds
WR: D. Amendola 7 rec, 84 yds, 2 TD                     WR: A. Hurns 6 rec, 80 yds

Comparing my prediction:

I’m still confident in my predictions throughout these playoffs. Here are my predictions for this game.

Although Brady didn’t throw any picks, the Jaguars did force a turnover. Brady was held under 300 yards, just, and got the 2 TDs as I predicted. With the early injury to Gronkowski, he wasn’t able to play in the second half, tallying just one reception for 21 yards. I correctly predicted that the Jaguars would lead at halftime, led by Fournette. Though he didn’t eclipse 100 rush yards, he did get 76 and the TD, leading all players.

Keep an eye our for a NFC Championship Recap and Super Bowl 52 preview.


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