Joined: 17 Nov 2018
|Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title.
They’ll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy.
Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point , fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday.
Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance.
The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers’ six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.
Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33.
The Vikings were hoping to become the first NFL team to serve as host to a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but they followed up their ”Minneapolis Miracle ” with a ”Flop in Philly.”
So, they’ll clear out their lockers long before the Eagles and Patriots and their fans take over U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl 52 in two weeks.
Oddsmakers like the chances of Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring , making the Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Eagles.
The Patriots and Eagles, who last won an NFL title in 1960, several years before the first Super Bowl, met in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season with the Patriots prevailing 24-21.
Hours after Brady’s game-winning 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining in Foxborough, the Eagles won for the fourth time in five tries under Foles.
It started out ominously, however.
The Vikings celebrated Kyle Rudolph’s 25-yard touchdown catch from Case Keenum on their opening drive by mimicking the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.
It was the Eagles who had all the fun after that.
Patrick Robinson’s spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league’s stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium.
”You know everyone was against us,” Foles said. ”Coming out here and stick together and (we) come away with an amazing victory against a great team.”
Blake Bortles and the stingy Jaguars (12-7) led New England 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold against the defending champions.
The NFL’s second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game , but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England’s winning drive.
It was New England’s 13th win in 14 games since their 2-2 start. Their only stumble since September was a 27-20 loss at the Dolphins on Dec. 11.
Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.
And, with the game – and the season – possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.
”I’ve had a lot worse,” Brady said. ”I didn’t know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.”
Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola.
It’s the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times – including last year’s 34-28 overtime rally against the Falcons.
”It’s pretty amazing,” Brady said. ”Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it’s just a great accomplishment.”
Carlos Gonzalez came to the plate in the fourth inning with a runner on first and nobody out and saw the shift-happy Philadelphia Phillies move three infielders to the right of second base.
The lefty slugger promptly laid down a bunt where nobody was on the left side, sparking a big inning as another of manager Gabe Kapler’s defensive moves backfired.
Ian Desmond hit a two-run homer in that five-run fourth, Tyler Anderson pitched seven strong innings and the Colorado Rockies routed the Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday night to end a five-game losing streak.
”We were probably most excited about CarGo’s bunt,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. ”After the Nolan (Arenado) walk and then the bunt, that sort of set everything up. It got us going. And CarGo practices that every day.”
Trevor Story added three hits and drove in two for the Rockies, who had dropped nine of 11 while falling from first place to fourth in the NL West.
Anderson (4-1) allowed one run and six hits while matching his longest outing of the season, set in his last start.
”I think we were feeding off Andy a little there. He pitched great tonight ,” Desmond said. ”An electric fastball. He was locating all his pitches. He was working quick. You could tell he was pitching with a purpose tonight. And as an offense, I think we fed off that.”
Jorge Alfaro and Jesmuel Valentin homered for the Phillies, who were seeking their first three-game winning streak since May 13-17.
Gonzalez’s bunt was another blow to the Phillies’ defensive alignments, which came under criticism from Philadelphia pitcher Jake Arrieta after a loss at San Francisco earlier this month.
”I don’t think it’s something we want to see him do every day,” Desmond said of Gonzalez. ”But that built momentum. It kept it going.”
Nick Pivetta (4-6) struck out five straight batters in the second and third innings. But the bunt was the first of five straight hits allowed before he recorded an out in the fifth. Story had an RBI double off the wall and Gerardo Parra followed with a two-run single.
Desmond, who came in hitting .196, then sent an 0-1 slider into the right-field seats for his 12th homer to make it 6-0.
”I hung a couple breaking balls tonight and they’re a good-hitting club,” Pivetta said.
Story, who had his career-high fifth straight multihit game, had another run-scoring double in the seventh against Mark Leiter Jr., giving him 49 RBIs.
Pivetta, who lost his fourth straight start, was charged with six runs on eight hits with three walks over five innings.
Anderson didn’t allow a walk and struck out six, including Scott Kingery three times. He used his awkward lefty delivery to keep the Phillies off balance, save for an 0-2 fastball that Alfaro hit to right for his fifth homer in the fifth.
Valentin had three hits, including his first major league homer in the ninth off Harrison Musgrave.
”As soon as I hit it, I thought I had a chance ,” Valentin said. ”Thank God I got it out of the way.”
Rockies: Reliever Adam Ottavino (oblique) felt good after throwing Tuesday. ”He’s champing at the bit to get back on the mound,” Black said. ”We’re really optimistic that this could happen in a couple days.” Ottavino has a team-best 0.95 ERA.
Phillies: Reliever Pat Neshek (shoulder, forearm) will throw all of his pitches in a bullpen Thursday. If it goes well, he’ll head to Florida to throw live batting practice. Neshek, who signed a two-year, $16.5 million deal in December, has yet to throw a pitch this season. ”The greatest acquisition we can make right now is inserting Pat Neshek in our bullpen,” Kapler said.
FRANCO BACK, HERRERA SITS
Slumping 3B Maikel Franco started after being out of the Philadelphia lineup five straight games and went 0 for 4.
CF Odubel Herrera, 0 for 17 in the past four games, didn’t play.
The Rockies signed former Mississippi LHP Ryan Rolison, the 22nd overall pick in last week’s draft.
Musgrave returned from his grandfather’s funeral in West Virginia, was activated off the bereavement list and pitched the ninth. LHP Sam Howard was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (4-7, 4.95 ERA) starts the series finale Thursday against RHP German Marquez (4-6, 4.79). Velasquez was charged with 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings in his last start.