As the late Jim Croce once musically mused…
“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…
“You don’t spit into the wind…
“You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger…
You never count out the New England Patriots.
Once again, the defending Super Bowl Champions were improbably able to snatch victory from the hands of defeat. The Pats rallied for a 24-20 comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on AFC championship Sunday.
Quarterback Tom Brady showed no signs of being hindered the hand injury, which he suffered in practice earlier this week. Instead, Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns. In what would end up being the game-winner for New England, he threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining in the game.
Ironically, Jacksonville looked poised for the upset for much of the game. The Jaguars jumped out to a 14-3 lead with a pair of lengthy, ball-control drives of 76 and 77 yards. Each of them resulted in touchdowns in the second quarter. Despite some ball movement by the Pats in the third quarter, the Jaguars led 20-10 early in the fourth.
However, with the game — and possibly the season — on the line, the Patriots, led by Brady, did what they do best.
As a result, the Patriots will play the winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.
History in the Making
This year’s Super Bowl appearance will be the 10th in the history of the New England Patriots franchise. In the interest of putting this feat into perspective, no other team in league history has been able to reach the sport’s biggest stage more than eight times.
Speaking of the number ‘eight,’ head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be playing in their eighth Super Bowl together. They now have the chance to win six. No other coach or quarterback has more than four.
Whether you love them or hate them, no one can deny that the New England Patriots have earned this unprecedented run of success.
Hit Where it Hurts
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski finished the game with just one reception for 21 yards. However, his absence in the second half was palpable, after he suffered a concussion in the second quarter.
The hit from Barry Church that took him out of the game drew a 15-yard penalty for blatant helmet-to-helmet contact. He did not come out to the sidelines with the team to begin the second half, and was eventually ruled OUT for the remainder of the game.
As timetables for concussion recovery are merely estimates, at best, his health will be a major storyline in the two weeks before the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LII