Admit it, just for a minute, you thought the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to pull it off on the road on Sunday. The Jaguars led by 10 in the fourth quarter, but the New England Patriots rallied for a 24-20 AFC Championship win, reaching their 10th Super Bowl in franchise history. The Patriots overcame a loss of Rob Gronkowski, who exited with a concussion in the first half, as Danny Amendola caught the game-winning four-yard touchdown pass with 2:48 to play. The scoring catch was the second for Amendola on the day, as Brady threw for 290 yards without his top target. Gronkowski took a hit to the head on an incomplete pass in the second quarter and did not return. The Jaguars led by 11 in the first half and 10 late in the fourth, as Blake Bortles' 293 passing yards and a touchdown pass was not enough for the Jags to pull it off. They forced a fumble for the lone turnover halfway through the fourth quarter, but could not run down the clock enough to make time run out on the Pats. The defending champs are heading to their second straight Super Bowl, and eighth in the Brady/Bill Belichick era, as they will face the same team that they beat in the big game back in 2005.
"Underdog" Eagles Reach Super Bowl in Convincing Fashion
The Philadelphia Eagles embraced critics seeing them as underdogs in their playoff matchups, and that has led them all the way to the Super Bowl with their backup quarterback. Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles blew past the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game to return to the Super Bowl, despite being without injured starting QB Carson Wentz. Minnesota scored the first seven points of the game on Kyle Rudolph's first-quarter TD, but turned the ball over three times, including two Case Keenum interceptions, one of which was returned 50 yards by Patrick Robinson for a pick-six. Foles took over for Wentz in Week 13 after the starter suffered a torn ACL, and despite the Eagles having the top defense, they were chosen to fall to the Atlanta Falcons last week, and then to these Vikings this week. Now, they will be playing for their first championship since 1960 on February 6th in Minnesota. The former Pro Bowl quarterback, Foles, found Alshon Jeffrey twice and Torrey Smith once in the end zone on Sunday, as the Eagles put up 17 points in the second quarter to pull away by halftime. No matter what the result of the Super Bowl is, these results have made things interesting when it comes to Philadelphia's quarterback situation heading in to next season.
Celtics Fall to Magic Despite Irving's Big Day
The Boston Celtics have fallen into a bit of a drought, not nearly as large as the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it is a skid of sorts. The Eastern Conference leaders fell to the last-place Orlando Magic at home, 103-95, on Sunday afternoon, for their season-worst third straight loss overall and on their home floor. This defeat came despite Kyrie Irving returning from a one-game absence and going off for 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting, but the Celtics turned the ball over 15 times and shot just 29 percent from three-point range in the loss. The Magic got 22 points from Elfrid Payton and won for just the third time in the past 20 games. The win also snapped a 14-game road losing streak to the Celtics, as well as a current 10-game road skid. Evan Fournier had 19 points and Aaron Gordon added a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds in the Magic's 14th win of the season. They will return home on Tuesday night to play host to the equally-lowly Sacramento Kings. The Celtics will begin a west coast trip with back to back games at the Staples Center on Tuesday and Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers respectively.