Tom Brady leads Patriots to Another Comeback Win, advance to Super Bowl over Jacksonville
In a classic David versus Goliath game in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars went into Foxborough to try and take down the New England Patriots. The Jags were coming off of a game in which they were incredible against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and beat them 45-42. The Patriots were coming off of a dismantling of the Tennessee Titans, and were looking to beat the Jags to advance for a chance to get Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their sixth Super Bowl.
The Jaguars looked like they were ready to take over the game in the first half. They started off extremely hot, with Blake Bortles playing like Tom Brady. Leonard Fournette was getting anything he wanted on the ground, and the Patriots looked like they forgot that Corey Grant was on the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were able to score two early touchdowns on the back of Fournette, all while holding the New England offense to just 10 points. The Jacksonville defense was just flying all across the field all throughout the first half, and it looked like New England might have finally met their match. The Patriots were held to just one field goal before the two-minute warning. Once the two minute warning hit though, the Patriots bucked down and were led on a touchdown drive by Tom Brady. While the drive was also aided by some penalties on Jacksonville, the Patriots were still able to take advantage and put up a touchdown. At the half, the Jaguars led the Patriots 14-10.
In the second half, the Patriots came out and looked like they had finally found a way to stop the Jaguars’ run game, which put more pressure on Blake Bortles. He was able to handle the pressure for the most part, but missed a couple crucial throws down the stretch. He did lead the Jaguars on two drives that led to field goals in the second half, but that was all the offense could muster in the second half. Meanwhile, on the other sideline, Tom Brady was beginning to heat up. He was unable to lead the Patriots on a scoring drive in the third quarter, but really shined in the fourth quarter. While the mighty Jacksonville Jaguars defense surrendered an average of 169.9 passing yards per game this year, Tom Brady threw for 138 in the fourth quarter. He tossed two touchdowns in the quarter, including one to Danny Amendola, who made an incredible catch in the back of the endzone to take a lead. The most impressive part of Brady’s second half performance though, was that he did it all without Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a concussion late in the second quarter. The Patriots defense stepped up in the fourth quarter and didn’t let Blake Bortles get going, and were able to put pressure on him, and two plays in particular showed their fourth quarter defensive dominance. First, James Harrison, an aging pass rusher picked up from the Pittsburgh Steelers with two weeks left in the year, sacked Bortles and stripped him midway through the fourth quarter, which was the beginning of the end for the Jacksonville offensive line, which had been holding firm all game. Next, Stephon Gilmore made an incredible leaping batdown to knock down a nice pass from Blake Bortles that would have put the Jags in excellent position. The Patriots came back to win the game 24-20.
Now, there were several things in this game that could have changed the outcome. The first, and most glaring, was a fumble that needed to be reviewed. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, as Brady and the offense was starting to heat up, the Patriots threw a pass to Dion Lewis, who had the ball stripped while he was running down the sideline. The ball was stripped by Myles Jack, and when I say that it was stripped, I mean it in the purest form of the word. I mean that Jack came and snatched the ball from Lewis’ arms like candy from a baby. As Myles Jack began to run the play back, the play was blown dead by a nearby referee, and the play was then reviewed and the fumble was confirmed. The issue though, was that Myles Jack was never ruled down, and the play was blown dead as he began a wide open sprint back to the other end zone, which would have certainly resulted in a touchdown for the Jags. If Jack scored, the score would have been 27-10, and Tom Brady would have almost certainly not have been able to come back from a deficit like that with just 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
There were other plays, including a questionable pass-interference call in the first half, but at this point, there isn’t a real need delve too far into it. The bottom line is this: the Patriots played better down the stretch than the Jaguars did, and the better team won.
Now, I personally wanted to see the Patriots get the win, because I Thought that the Super Bowl would be much more entertaining with them in it. As the Jaguars took over in the first half though, I did like the idea of the 49ers being the Transitive Property AFC Champions. I had so many jokes prepared at the expense of the Patriots and their angst over trading Jimmy G, but they were able to come back and win the game, so I’ll hang onto them for the future. The game was a classic, was very entertaining, and in the long run, probably good for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Think about it, if the Jaguars made the Super Bowl, or if they won the Super Bowl, there was no way they could move on from Blake Bortles. Now, they have the chance to move on to an actual franchise quarterback that could help them build an elite offense to pair with their already-elite defense. So, be patient Jaguars fans, your time will come, all you need is a guy like Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith.
Both quarterbacks had pretty similar games today. Brady threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 26 of 38 passes. Bortles threw for 293 yards and one touchdown, while completing 23-36 passes. Brady had the advantage of having better weapons surrounding him on offense. Brandin Cooks had a very good game, outside of a potential touchdown he dropped in the third quarter, and finished with six receptions for 100 yards. Danny Amendola had a huge game, and made countless big catches en route to finishing with 84 yards and two touchdowns. The Jaguars leading receiver was Allen Hurns, who had six catches for 80 yards.
The New England Patriots are now moving onto the Super Bowl, which will take place on February 4 in Minneapolis.