Brady, Patriots prove too much for Ti­tans

Brady tosses 3 TDs as New Eng­land heads to AFC ti­tle game

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day -

Af­ter Ten­nessee scored the first touch­down, Tom Brady took over, throw­ing for 337 yards and three touch­downs in New Eng­land’s 35-14 vic­tory.

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.

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

Corey Davis made a one­handed 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.

Elsa/,etty Im­ages

Patriots run­ning back James White (right) cel­e­brates with quar­ter­back Tom Frady af­ter scor­ing a touch­down against the Ti­tans. White scored two Tas in the first half against Ten­nessee on Satur­day.

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