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.
Disappointment for the Falcons
Nick Foles was steady, Jake Elliott had a big leg and the defense made one final stop.
The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are heading to the NFC championship game following a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. They’ll host the Saints-Vikings winner next Sunday.
Despite going 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed, the Eagles entered the game as 3-point underdogs against the sixth-seeded Falcons (11-7). They used it as motivation and now it’s onto the next one as they continue pursuit of the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
“If we believe the outsiders, we will be all messed up,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. “We went out and proved we can be the real winning team.”
Matt Ryan’s final pass sailed through Julio Jones’ arms in the corner of the end zone as Jalen Mills had tight coverage on fourth down from the 2 to secure Philadelphia’s win. It was another disappointing finish for the Falcons, who blew a 25-point lead against the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl.
“The reason I play this game is to win a championship,” Ryan said. “That’s why we put all of the hard work we put in. When you don’t get that result, it’s difficult.”
Foles outplayed Ryan, bouncing back from a pair of subpar games with an efficient performance. He completed 77 percent of his passes (23 of 30) for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no turnovers.
“The biggest thing in our locker room is that we believe in one another and that showed,” Foles said. “We kept working, kept grinding, had faith in one another. In any sport there’s going to be criticism. You’re aware of it because you’re human but we blocked it out.”