Another year, another AFC Championship game. It truly is amazing. 7 straight years. This run that the Patriots have been on will never be replicated ever again, and that is just because it is absurd that it has even happened in the first place. 7 straight years of making it to the final four in a league that has created a system for dynasties like this to not be possible.
Before we start looking ahead, we honestly need to step back and appreciate this. When you have all the Vikings fans celebrating like they just won the goddamn lottery for making it to the same spot you can pencil the Patriots making it to every year just is crazy to think about. So step back and just appreciate this and appreciate that game on Saturday.
When looking back at the game, it was really what was expected and what you wanted to see from this Patriots team. Tom Brady goes for 337 years and 3 touchdowns, where if they didn’t take the foot off the gas, it could have been a lot more. But the most important thing about the offense was that once again when it is playoff time, Danny Amendola takes his game to the next level. We have seen it every year in the playoffs, and Saturday night was no different. Danny went for 112 yards on 11 catches and came up clutch once again. For a team that is missing Julian Edelman, Amendola was everything this team needed.
While Danny might have had the best performance against the Titans, the Pats deadly Running Back duo was not far behind. Dion Lewis put up another Dion Lewis performance like he seems to do every week, including this play that was called a touchdown but was correctly changed because he was down. Impressive no less.
And it is amazing how well this offense works when you have a healthy James White paired with Dion. James in his 1st game back came in clutch scoring the 1st two touchdowns of the day for New England.
And James was not the only Patriot who made his return and had a nice game back. Chris Hogan also showed why him being healthy and into the lineup is so important to the Patriots playoff success. Having him back is crucial to the Patriots pass game. Let’s not forget how important he was at the beginning of the season putting up some crazy numbers. And lets also not forget how huge he was last year in the playoffs. So it was great to see a guy coming back from a shoulder injury hold nothing back including this amazing block that set up a nice run for Dion.
And with him being healthy, it is just another big body for Brady to throw to in the end zone.
While it was good to see him out there, that was his only catch of the day. I am just hoping that the rust was knocked off and we can expect to see him back making big catches in the coming weeks.
While the offense made it look easy dicing up Dick LeBeau’s defense, which has become a regular thing for Brady, it was the Patriots defense that was the real surprise to me. They had a great gameplan and executed it perfectly. They did what Bill Belichick defenses always do by taking out your number one option. It was obvious that the Patriots wanted to take out Derrick Henry and that was exactly what they did. Holding the former Heisman to only 28 yards on 12 carries was something I was worried they wouldn’t be able to do with Alan Branch once again out of the lineup. However, the D line headlined by Malcolm Brown really showed up and took Henry right out of the game. It was clear that they wanted to clog up the middle by having 5 linemen up front and wanted to get Henry moving side to side. And it worked to perfection. The most obvious of this being on the failed 4th down.
And while the front of the defense looked great, so did the back end highlighted by the man who popped his playoff cherry in Stephon Gilmore.
Worth every penny.
The Patriots went into the divisional round and took care of business, which is more than you can say for some other teams last weekend. The Pats took care of business and now will be hosting Blake Bortles and the Jags in the AFC Championship. What a year this is. The Titans said before the game on Saturday that they were going to make Brady look like Bortles. Well unless Bortles looks like Brady, I think we will be heading back to the Super Bowl. One down, two to go. Let’s get number six.