FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Sporting Alert) — New England Patriots rallied from two 14 point deficits to beat the Baltimore Ravens, 35-31 at Gillette Stadium on Saturday to secure a place in the AFC championship.
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes — with his third putting the Patriots (13-4) ahead for the first time late in the fourth quarter — and then the hosts held on for the win that booked them a place in their fourth straight conference championship game.
Brady went 33 of 50 for 367 yards and one interception.
Meanwhile, Joe Flacco, who threw three touchdown passes in the first half, was 28 of 45 in passing for 292 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions for the Ravens (11-7), who scored the opening 14 points of the contest.
With the scores tied at 28-28 heading into the fourth quarter, Justin Tucker put away a 25-yard field goal with 10:17 left in the game to give the Ravens a 31-28 lead.
However, Brady inspired what turned out to be the winning 10 play, 74 yard drive, which ended with a 23 yard touchdown dish to Brandon LaFell with just over five-minutes remaining.
“I don’t think we played as well as we would’ve liked,” Brady said. But “showed a lot of toughness coming back from those two deficits.”
Danny Amendola had five catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots, while Rob Gronkowski caught the ball seven times for 108 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
Justin Forsett rushed 24 times for 124 yards in the defeat for Baltimore, which finished with 428 in total yards.
“We had two separate 14-point leads. Those guys did a good job getting it back to seven as quickly as they could,” said Flacco.
“They don’t panic.”
New England now awaits the winner of Sunday’s clash between the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts.
The AFC conference title game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 18.
In the other playoff game on Saturday, defending champions Seattle Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers 31-17 to secure its 8th successive playoff win at home and reached the NFC Championship game.
Quarterback Russell Wilson went 15 of 22 for 268 yards and threw touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Luke Willson to lead the way for the Seahawks (12-4).
Strong safety Kam Chancellor, who finished with 11 combined tackles, also returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown with 5:55 left in the fourth quarter, as Seattle inched closer to defending their Super Bowl crown.
Cam Newton went 23 of 36 for 246 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off twice. He also added 37 yards rushing in the defeat for the Panthers (7-8-1), which piled up 132 yards rushing — the fourth highest of any team against the Seahawks this season.
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