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Tom Brady, Patriots brush aside distractions, blast Titans

From ESPN - January 13, 2018

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots machine rolls on.

Despite all the distractions, it was business as usual for the Patriots as they earned a return to the AFC Championship Game for the seventh consecutive season by beating the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Saturday at frigid Gillette Stadium.

The result came after a week in which an ESPN The Magazine report detailed friction between coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft and had each of the big three answering questions about it. By Tuesday morning, Belichick had felt the need to reset the agenda and said, At this point, Im all-in on Tennessee. Ill answer any questions about the Titans, but thats it.

Belichick was all-in, and his team -- after a slower-than-desired start -- was all over the Titans on Saturday.

Distractions?

What distractions?

"This time of year, theres no such thing to me as distractions," said safety Devin McCourty, one of the team's captains. "Unless you have some issue going on with your family or something like that, there is nothing else that can distract you. I dont care what comes out, whats said. Our goal from the beginning of the season was to be able to play in the playoffs and try to go out there and win games in the playoffs. Theres nothing right now that can deter us from that."

"You have to keep ignoring noise on the outside," Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said postgame on NBC, "and just keep working every time you walk in the building and just keep grinding."

After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, the Patriots ripped off 35 points in a row, and by the start of the fourth quarter -- when Brady converted a ridiculous across-the-field, high-arcing throw to clutch receiver Danny Amendola (first career 100-yard receiving game in the playoffs) to convert a third-and-10 situation -- the bone-chilled but delirious crowd was chanting, MVP! MVP! MVP!

"We locked eyes early and I could tell he was thinking about it," Amendola relayed. "I kept running, knew I had a couple yards, and he looked back again and let it go. It ended up working out."

It was a vintage Brady performance, as the 40-year-old decisively answered the question as to whether his December performance -- which wasnt up his usual high standard -- was perhaps a sign of him finally starting to show his age.

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