Patriots back in AFC title game, Titans trip into offseason

From FOX Sports - January 13, 2018

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)The New England Patriots have handled every bit of adversity that has been thrown at them this seasonfrom a string of injuries to the recent off-field firestorm created by reports of purported discord within the core of the franchise.

Now, theyll have a chance to play for yet another AFC championship.

The Patriots 35-14 victory over the Titans in Saturdays divisional round was yet another reminder of the defending Super Bowl champions unique ability to not only compartmentalize, but play some of their best football in the face of it.

Tom Brady chuckled when he was asked after the game about his name being mentioned in a swirl of media reports last week about alleged bickering between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

Noooo, he responded sarcastically, when a reporter asked about Bradys name being mentioned in a negative light.

But Brady said it just goes with the territory.

I just try to be consistent, show up and do the best I can do every week for the team and regardless of whether Im the worst quarterback in the league or the best quarterback in the league or somewhere in-between, he said.

It was Bradys 10th career postseason game with at least three TD tosses, moving him past Joe Montana for the most in NFL history. It also brought out some of the best football in his teammates.

James White caught a touchdown pass and ran for another, and Danny Amendola had 11 catches for 112 yardshis first career 100-yard receiving game.

All the hard work we put in is for these moments, White said. We have to make the most of these opportunities.

Marcus Mariota tossed an early touchdown pass to give the Titans an early 7-0 lead. But Tennessee faltered down the stretch as the Patriots defense swarmed the third-year quarterback and sacked him a Patriots playoff-record eight times.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey revealed after the game that Mariota suffered a strained quadriceps muscle in the first quarter. But Mariota said it was no excuse.

Everybody plays with something, he said.

He said he walked off the field feeling embarrassed a week after leading his team back from 18 points down against Kansas City. But he said watching the efficiency of Brady and the Patriots was a learning experience he will take with him moving forward.

You dont play to come and lose in the divisional playoff. You play to win the whole thing, Mariota said.Obviously, this is the blueprint. New Englands been in the playoffs consistently. We can learn a lot from them.



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