In one of the greatest postseason games in recent memory, the New England Patriots’ only lead was the final score as Tom Brady and Co. outdueled Joe Flacco and a battle-tested Baltimore Ravens team, 35-31, to reach their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game.
In doing so the Patriots became the only team in NFL postseason history to fight back from a pair of two-touchdown deficits to win.
Brady finished 33-of-50 for 367 yards and three touchdowns, with his 50th and final toss being a go-ahead 23-yard strike to Brandon LaFell with just over five minutes remaining, a pass that was prettier than Tom Terrific’s supermodel wife.
It was also Brady’s 46th TD pass in the playoffs, breaking Joe Montana’s all- time record.
“I don’t think we played as well as we would’ve liked,” said Brady, who completed eight of nine passes for 72 yards on the game-winning drive. “We showed a lot of toughness coming back from those two deficits.”
Already the winningest postseason signal caller in NFL lore coming in, Brady was a hair better than Flacco, the most successful playoff QB since 2008 and a player that had already beaten the Pats in January at Gillette Stadium on two different occasions.
Flacco was 28-for-44 for 292 yards tossed a career postseason-best four touchdowns but his second interception of the game virtually ended Baltimore’s chances with 1:39 left to play.
Flacco had thrown 197 passes and 17 TDs between postseason interceptions, the second longest streak in history, when Devin McCourty finally figured him out in the third quarter.
The University of Delaware product, who has been dubbed “January Joe” by some and “Joe Cool” by others for his unflappable demeanor in big spots, only went 11 passes before being picked again, this time by Duron Harmon in the end zone as Flacco misread a single-high safety as he went deep down the left side for Torrey Smith.
Kam Chancellor bobbed his head in celebration as he crossed the goal line on his game-clinching 90-yard interception return.
The Seattle Seahawks’ resurgent defense has them thinking repeat.
Another dominating second half performance has them one step closer.
Russell Wilson tossed three touchdown passes and the Seahawks punched their ticket into the NFC Championship Game with a 31-17 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.
Seattle will play the winner of Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys in next Sunday’s conference title game at CenturyLink Field.