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NFL Playoffs: Patriots roll into AFC final

By MIKE SHALIN
The Sports Xchange

January 14. 2018 2:14AM

New England Patriots running back James White (28) celebrates with center David Andrews (60) after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 13, 2018. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots, seeking the sixth title of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Era, are headed to their seventh straight AFC championship game.

James White and Chris Hogan returned from injury to combine for three second-quarter touchdowns and the defending champions, despite surrendering the first score of the game, cruised to a chilly 35-14 divisional round playoff rout of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

The Patriots will face the winner of today's Jacksonville-Pittsburgh game at Gillette Stadium in the earlier of the two championship games next Sunday.

White, nursed through a late-season ankle injury that saw him miss the final two games of the regular season, ran for one touchdown and caught a TD pass from Brady, who became the oldest quarterback ever to win a postseason games. Hogan, who missed seven of the last eight games with a shoulder injury, also caught a TD pass as New England won for the 12th time in its last 13 games.

Brandon Bolden, who didn't score a touchdown all season, ran two yards for a third-quarter score, his first rushing TD since 2014, and Rob Gronkowski caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter - Gronkowski becoming the eighth player in history with 10 postseason TD catches.

The big tight end caught six passes for 81 yards and his 835 postseason reception yards are second all-time among tight ends, barely behind only Dallas Clark.

The Titans, who had to win their regular season finale just to squeeze into the playoffs before pulling off a big comeback at Kansas City in the wild card game, led 7-0 thanks to a 95-yard first-quarter scoring drive. Rookie Corey Davis made a one-handed catch of a 15-yard pass from Marcus Mariota for the first TD catch of his NFL career.

Davis caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Mariota with 1:55 left in the game.

The Patriots, who haven't lost to the Titans in Foxborough since the Titans were the Houston Oilers in 1993, then scored on three straight possessions to take a 21-7 lead at the half.

Brady captured his 26th postseason victory, recorded his 13th 300-yard postseason passing game - extending his NFL record for both - and he also broke a tie with Joe Montana and is now the all-time leader with 10 three-TD playoff games.

He was 35 of 53 for 337 yards.

Danny Amendola caught 11 passes for 112 yards and Dion Lewis had nine grabs for 79. Lewis also ran for 62 yards and the Patriots improved to 8-0 when Lewis accounts for more than 100 yards of offense.

Mariota, sacked eight times (a New England postseason record, seven in the second half) - two each by rookie Deatrich Wise and Gino Grissom - finished 22 of 37 for 254 yards. Eric Decker had six catches and Davis five.

With DeMarco Murray out, Derrick Henry was held to just 28 yards on 12 carries. Mariota ran for 37 yards on four tries.

The win came in Belichick's record 37th postseason game as he broke a three-wat tie with Tom Landry and Don Shula.


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