Patriots dominate Titans, head back to AFC title game
By KYLE HIGHTOWER, The Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — First, the Patriots tuned out a week full of off-field drama. Then, they silenced the Titans to earn yet another trip to the AFC championship game.
Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards, and New England cruised past Tennessee 35-14 on Saturday to advance to their seventh consecutive conference title game.
New England (14-3) will host the winner of today’s game 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.
New England’s victory came on the heels of a week filled with turmoil following reports of discord involving Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
None of that showed on the field Saturday.
“I’ve been around long enough,” Brady said. “So, 18 years, there’s so many nice things said about me. It just goes with the territory.”
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. The quarterback from Honolulu was sacked eight times, a Patriots playoff record.
“Man, embarrassed,” Mariota said.
Coach Mike Mularkey said after the game that Mariota strained a quadriceps in the first quarter.
“It had an impact,” Mularkey said. “We had to get out of some of our scheme with him.”
New England also held Derrick Henry to just 28 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski finished with six catches for 81 yards and touchdown. It was his 10th career postseason TD, tying him with five others for third all-time.
Tennessee 7 0 0 7–14
New England 0 21 7 7–35
Ten–Davis 15 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 1:14.
NE–White 5 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 13:18.
NE–White 6 run (Gostkowski kick), 9:20.
NE–Hogan 4 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 1:52.
NE–Bolden 2 run (Gostkowski kick), 4:02.
NE–Gronkowski 4 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 10:22.
Ten–Davis 11 pass from Mariota (Succop kick), 1:55.
First downs 15 31
Total Net Yards 267 438
Rushes-yards 16-65 27-101
Passing 202 337
Punt Returns 1-0 3-27
Kickoff Returns 4-83 1-27
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 22-37-0 35-53-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 8-52 0-0
Punts 7-45.1 4-42.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-62 4-37
Time of Possession 27:04 32:56
RUSHING–Tennessee, Mariota 4-37, Henry 12-28. New England, Lewis 15-62, Bolden 4-27, White 4-11, Brady 1-2, Hoyer 3-(minus 1).
PASSING–Tennessee, Mariota 22-37-0-254. New England, Brady 35-53-0-337.
RECEIVING–Tennessee, Decker 6-85, Davis 5-63, Walker 3-49, Matthews 3-27, Henry 3-21, Taylor 1-5, J.Smith 1-4. New England, Amendola 11-112, Lewis 9-79, Gronkowski 6-81, White 4-29, Cooks 3-32, Hogan 1-4, Hollister 1-0.
MISSED FIELD GOALS–New England, Gostkowski 53.
All times HST
NFC: Philadelphia 15, Atlanta 10
AFC: New England 35, Tennessee 14
AFC: Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 8:05 a.m. (CBS)
NFC: New Orleans at Minnesota, 11:40 a.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Jan. 21
AFC: Jacksonville-Pittsburgh winner at New England, 10:05 a.m. (CBS)
NFC: New Orleans-Minnesota winner at Philadelphia, 1:40 p.m. (FOX)