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AFC Championship
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Jacksonville 0 14 3 3 20
New England 3 7 0 14 24
12:05 PM PT1:05 PM MT2:05 PM CT3:05 PM ET20:05 GMT4:05 1:05 PM MST3:05 PM EST2:05 PM CT0:05 UAE (+1)15:05 ETNaN:� , January 21, 2018
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts  Weather: 48°, Clear  Attendance: 65,878

Patriots quietly await Jaguars' challenge in AFC title game

According to STATS
According to STATS

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots

  1. In the fourth-highest scoring game in postseason history, the Jaguars downed the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 45-42, in a Sunday Divisional Playoff game. Jacksonville took a 21-0 lead with three rushing touchdowns in the game's first 19 minutes, and added another first-half score on Telvin Smith's 50-yard return of a Ben Roethlisberger fumble. With Roethlisberger throwing for 469 yards and five TDs, the Steelers closed to within seven points at 28-21, 35-28 and 42-35, but a failed onside kickoff set up a Josh Lambo field goal that gave the Jags an insurmountable 10-point lead in the final two minutes. Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three touchdowns for the winners, and Blake Bortles passed for 214 yards and a score in a giveaway-free performance. Jacksonville won despite allowing 545 total yards.
  2. The Patriots rolled to a 35-14 home win over Tennessee on Saturday night, securing a seventh straight trip to the AFC Championship Game. The Pats rolled up 438 yards and 31 first downs; they scored 21 second-quarter points to erase an early 7-0 deficit. Tom Brady led the way with 337 passing yards and three TD passes for a 102.5 rating; Brady threw 53 passes and was not sacked. James Lewis scored two second-quarter touchdowns -- one via reception and one on a rush -- and Danny Amendola added 11 catches for 112 yards. The New England defense set a franchise postseason record with eight sacks against Marcus Mariota, and limited the Titans to 267 total yards and 15 first downs.
  3. The Jaguars and Patriots are meeting for the fifth time in the postseason, with the Patriots winning three of the first four, including the 1996 AFC Championship Game. New England is also 7-0 against Jacksonville in regular-season play; the Jaguars' lone victory over the Pats ever came in a 1998 Wild Card Game, 25-10. Since then, the Pats have won seven straight games in the series, regular season and postseason, by a combined score of 219-97.
  4. Including regular-season and playoff games, Blake Bortles has a 12-6 record this season; in his first three years in the NFL, Bortles won a total of 11 games (11-34). In Jacksonville's two playoff wins, Bortles has completed only 53.1 percent of his passes, but he has committed no giveaways and has taken only two sacks. In the team's last nine games overall, the Jaguars are 6-0 when Bortles is interception-free and 0-3 when he's been intercepted at least once.
  5. Tom Brady is set to make an unprecedented 12th start at quarterback in a conference championship game. Brady is 7-4 in his AFC Championship Game appearances, and last season's game against Pittsburgh was one of his best: 384 yards, three TD passes, no interceptions and a 127.5 rating. Combining regular season and playoff action, Brady is 7-0 against Jacksonville in his career, including 5-0 at home; the Pats have outscored the Jags by an average of 22.4 points per game in Brady's five starts against Jacksonville at Gillette Stadium.
  6. A win on Sunday would earn the Patriots an unprecedented 10th trip to the Super Bowl, where they would seek to match Pittsburgh's all-time record of six Super Bowl victories. The Jaguars, who are 0-2 all-time in AFC Championship Games, are one of four current franchises that have never reached the Super Bowl, joined by the Browns, Lions and Texans.
Team Comparison

New England
26.1 Points 28.6
232.3 Pass Yds 288.7
141.4 Rush Yds 118.1
33 Takeaways 18

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are spending the week leading up to Sunday's AFC title game doing what they always do in the days leading up to any game.

Not saying anything negative about the opposition.

That's the Patriots way -- don't give the other guys anything to put up on their bulletin boards.

So, when someone like Jacksonville's Jalen Ramsey predicts his Jaguars will unseat the defending Super Bowl champs in Sunday's game, the Patriots take the high road and talk about how tough the other guys are to deal with.

Reacting to Ramsey's boast, quarterback Tom Brady, on his weekly WEEI appearance, said, "I think what I have learned for a long time is -- it's how you play, it's not what you say. Everyone has different ways of handling things -- players do, coaches do. We do what works for us, other players do what works for them. The game is going to be decided by who plays the best, not who hypes the best or speaks the best.

"He's a really good player. I have watched a ton of film on him," Brady said of Ramsey. "He has a lot of strengths. He's obviously very confident. That is reflected in how he plays. I am more concerned about how he plays (as) opposed to what he says."

Brady, headed for his seventh straight AFC title game and 12th overall, also called the upstart Jaguars "the toughest" team the top-seeded Patriots have faced all season -- something that didn't sit too well with Jacksonville.

Jacksonville's Telvin Smith called Brady out on Twitter, saying, "Bruh this the oldest trick...pump us up in the media but in the buildin I kno what's really bein said. Respect."

Brady, who has had his shares of bumps and bruises in this, his 40-year-old season, skipped his Wednesday media session as he met with team medical personnel over a right hand injury. He then was held out of practice on Thursday because of the injury, calling into question how effective he would be if he plays Sunday.

He is still expected to play Sunday.

He captured his 26th postseason victory, recorded his 13th 300-yard postseason passing game -- extending his NFL record for both -- and also broke a tie with Joe Montana to become the all-time leader with 10 three-TD playoff games.

The Patriots, seeking the sixth Super Bowl crown of the Brady/Bill Belichick Era, hammered the Tennessee Titans 35-14 in the divisional round, while the third-seeded Jaguars stunned the Steelers 45-42 in Pittsburgh and come into this game filled with confidence -- and toughness.

Asked Wednesday what it will be like facing the NFL's No. 1 defense, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, active this time around after missing last year's title run, said, "That is a big challenge. They have very talented players on both sides of the ball. Especially on defense, they have many, many great players. It is going to be a big challenge.

"It is the best team we are facing all year coming up in the AFC Championship Game this weekend. We have to be ready. We have to be prepared. It is going to be a big, tough challenge, for sure."

The Jags are trying to become only the third team -- and first since the 1985 Chicago Bears -- to lead the league in rushing and win the championship.

"It's going to be tough. It's going to be a great challenge for us," Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone told the New England media via conference call Wednesday. "We understand how great of a team New England is and how much of a challenge all three phases are going to be faced with. It's going to be difficult and we understand that."

These teams practiced together prior to the first preseason game back in August, and Patriots players said they saw back then things would be different with a team that won three games last season.

Now, they meet for the AFC title.

The Patriots have gone 3-3 in the six straight title game appearances, losing twice to the Denver Broncos and once to the Baltimore Ravens. Most people expected a battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week but the Jags flipped the script and come into this game as decided underdogs.

A big change beside the coach was the return of Tom Coughlin to the organization he helped build -- as the first coach of the expansion team in 1995.

Jacksonville's vice president of football operations, Coughlin coached the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl wins over the Patriots, and one would have to think he can be of some help this week -- as he has the entire season.

Asked if Coughlin might be getting too much credit when he, Marrone, is the coach, Marrone said, "He should get a lot of credit. (Jaguars general manager) Dave Caldwell should get a lot of credit. Our coaches should get a hell of a lot of credit and our players deserve the most credit.

"So I think everyone is trying to pull in the same direction. I just think that those people getting the credit, they deserve it. As long as we win I don't really care who gets the credit. So I have no problem with that at all."

Updated January 18, 2018

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