New England Patriots: 3 Takeaways from the AFC Championship win over Jaguars

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images /

The New England Patriots are now heading to their eighth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady era, and here are three takeaways from their win over the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.

Anyone who was expecting a dominant performance from the New England Patriots in the 2018 AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was sorely mistaken. Tom Brady and company were playing from behind for most of the contest, a position they surely didn’t expect to find themselves in.

However, with the game hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter, Tom Terrific and the Pats turned up the heat and looked like a team who’s been there before playing against a group that, more or less, hasn’t. With a Danny Amendola touchdown late in final frame, they took the lead and held on with a big defensive stop to earn the win.

Now they’ll move on to Super Bowl LII and a date in Minnesota with the Philadelphia Eagles. But before we get there, let’s take a look at three takeaways for New England from their victory in the AFC Championship Game.

3. No lead is safe against Tom Brady

As if this wasn’t obvious enough after last season’s Super Bowl, Tom Brady once again proved that no lead is safe as long as he is healthy and on the field. Brady, who completed his eighth comeback playoff win on Sunday, once again proved to the world why he is the greatest quarterback of all-time. While not as historic as the Patriot’s 25-point comeback win over the Falcons in last years Super Bowl, it was certainly no easy task coming back down ten points in the fourth quarter against a defense as good as Jacksonville’s, despite how simple Brady made it look.

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At this point, I don’t see how an opposing can ever feel safe enough to take their foot off the gas against this Patriots team. How much of a lead is enough to feel confident? According to ESPN Stats and Information, Brady is now 3-4 when trailing by ten points or more in the fourth quarter of a playoff game over the last decade. Every other team in the league is 3-70 during that time.

2. New England’s defensive is good enough to win

There was a lot of press earlier this season about how historically bad New England’s defense was during the first month of play. This defense still isn’t an elite unit but there has been a lack of coverage regarding the improvement the team has made as the season continued to progress. New England had the worst of the defenses to make it to the final four this season but it certainly didn’t appear that it mattered on Sunday, especially when it mattered the most.

The Patriots absolutely dominated the Jaguars on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter, holding Jacksonville without a first down for the majority of the quarter. Additionally, despite the calls that veteran linebacker James Harrison was done after being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, do not underestimate the impact the recent addition was brought to New England’s defense.

1. Even with Gronkowski out, the Patriots are still the best

Last season, the Patriots three biggest contributors on offense were LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski. They lost Blount in free agency and Edelman to a season-ending injury that occurred in the preseason. Sunday just proved that the loss of these weapons doesn’t matter. Gronkowski did not play a snap in the second half of the AFC Championship Game after leaving due to a head injury but that did not stop the Patriots from scoring three touchdowns and making it to yet another Super Bowl.

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It truly seems like as long as Brady and Bill Belichick are there, the Patriots will be a force no matter what the rest of the team looks like. No matter who they play from the NFC in two weeks, expect them to be heavy favorites to win their sixth Super Bowl in the last 17 years and, at this point, it is hard to argue against that expectation.