Brady leads another late playoff comeback
Brady and Amendola did it again. Trailing 20–10 with less than 9 minutes to play, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Danny Amendola and New England advanced to the Super Bowl with a 24–20 victory over Jacksonville. Consider this: There have been only 11 postseason games in NFL history in which the winning team trailed by at least 10 points in the last 10 minutes of the fourth quarter. Four of those games were Patriots wins during the Brady-Belichick era, and the last three included a Brady-to-Amendola touchdown pass during the fourth-quarter game-winning rally. Amendola caught clutch TD passes in each of New England’s last two Super Bowl victories, against Seattle and Atlanta.
Brady and Bill Belichick’s Patriots have won four postseason games in which New England trailed by at least 10 points at any time in the fourth quarter. No other quarterback-coach combination has done that more than once.
Brady shines late against league’s #1 pass defense
Tom Brady completed 9 of 14 passes for 138 yards in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and he did it against the NFL’s best pass defense during the 2017 season. Only one other player passed for that much yardage in one quarter against the Jaguars during the regular season: Russell Wilson, in the wild fourth quarter of the Seahawks’ 30–24 loss at Jacksonville on Dec. 10 (149 yards). But it’s noteworthy that the Jags survived their second-round playoff game at Pittsburgh last week although Ben Roethlisberger passed for 211 yards in the fourth quarter.
As always, Brady is sharp at The Razor
With two touchdown passes against the Jaguars, Tom Brady has thrown 45 TDs in playoff games at Gillette Stadium. That’s more than twice as many as any other NFL player has thrown at any other venue in NFL postseason history. Joe Montana is the runner-up with 22 touchdown passes at Candlestick Park.
Minneapolis, here we come!
The Eagles, who haven’t won an NFL Championship since 1960, took another step in that direction by routing the Vikings, 38–7, after Minnesota scored the game’s first points. Philadelphia will become the third team to head to a Super Bowl on a scoring run of at least 38 points. Buffalo scored the last 44 points in the AFC Championship Game against the Raiders in Jan. 1991; and the Giants shut out the Vikings, 41–0, in the NFC title game in Jan. 2001.
It’s bombs away with Foles at QB
Nick Foles completed 26 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ win, connecting for big gains with Alshon Jeffrey (53 yards), Nelson Agholor (42), Torrey Smith (41), and Zach Ertz (36). Foles was the first quarterback in NFL history with completions for more than 40 yards to three different receivers in one postseason game.
Foles plays the role of supersub
With Carson Wentz injured, Nick Foles became the fourth quarterback since 1960 to win two postseason games after making three or fewer starts during the preceding regular season: Doug Williams of the Redskins (1987) and Jeff Hostetler of the Giants (1990) each led their team to a Super Bowl win. Frank Reich of the 1992 Bills won two games, including the huge comeback against Houston, before Jim Kelly returned from injury.
Chiefs think, “We coulda been contenders”
Kansas City hasn’t played in a Super Bowl since Jan. 1970. But for the second time in the last four years, the Chiefs can watch the Super Bowl knowing that they defeated both of the participating teams during the regular season. The same thing happened three years ago, when they defeated both the Patriots and the Seahawks during the 2014 season, then saw them meet in the Super Bowl.
For one afternoon, it was Showtime
The Lakers spanked the Knicks on Sunday with an unusually thorough offensive performance, scoring exactly 30 points in every quarter except the second, when they scored 37 points. Over the last 25 seasons, the Lakers played only six other games in which they scored at least 30 points in all four quarters—all in a span 16 months from Nov. 2007 to Feb. 2009. It comes as no surprise that Kobe Bryant averaged 36.0 points in those six games.
Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to score 29 points for the Lakers, and he was credited with 10 assists. Since 1970, the only other Lakers sub with at least 25 points and 10 assists in one game was Magic Johnson, during his brief comeback in 1996.
Magic rides big third quarter to victory at Boston
Orlando outscored the Celtics, 32–12, in the third quarter on Sunday and held on for a 103–95 victory at Boston. It was the Magic’s 110th game against the Celtics, but only the third in which Orlando had an edge of 20 or more points in any quarter. They previously did it at Orlando in 2000 and at Boston in 2010—both times in the third quarter, for those who get excited about such things.
Dinwiddie caps big game with last-second game-winner
Spencer Dinwiddie scored a team-high 22 points, including a game-winning field goal with one second to play, in Brooklyn’s 101–100 win at Detroit. It was the first time since 2008 that a Nets player capped a performance of 20 or more points with a last-second fourth-quarter field goal for a one-point win. The last Nets player to do that was Devon Harris, whose 29 points included a buzzer-beater at Indiana.
A rare Pacers win at San Antonio
The Pacers posted an unlikely 94–86 victory at San Antonio, as the Spurs suffered only their third home loss of the season. San Antonio had won its last 14 home games, dating back to November; the Pacers had lost 14 of their last 15 games at San Antonio, going all the way back to 2003.
Laine and Hellebuyck are all the Jets need
The Jets turned Patrik Laine’s first-period goal and 29 saves by Connor Hellebuyck into a 1–0 victory over the Canucks. The 19-year-old Laine is the first teenager to score in a 1–0 NHL game since Dylan Larkin scored in the Red Wings’ 1–0 win at New Jersey on Jan. 4, 2016. This was the second 1–0 victory in Thrashers/Jets history with a goal by a teenager. Ilya Kovalchuk was an 18-year-old rookie when he scored in Atlanta’s 1–0 win versus the Capitals on Oct. 26, 2001.
Elliott repeats his success against the Caps
Brian Elliott made 27 saves in the Flyers’ 2–1 overtime victory at Washington. It’s Elliott’s second win in two games against the Capitals this season, having beaten them by an 8–2 score at Philadelphia on Oct. 14. The only other goaltender with two wins versus the Capitals this season is the Flames’ Mike Smith. Elliott is the first Flyers goaltender to win at least two games against the Capitals in one season since Steve Mason beat Washington three times in 2013–14.
D-man Miller provides O for VGK
Colin Miller set career highs for points and shots on goal in one game when he tallied one goal and two assists and put seven shots on target in the Golden Knights’ 5–1 win at Carolina. Miller is only the third defenseman to register at least three points and seven shots on goal in an NHL game this season. The others are Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (Oct. 19 vs. New Jersey, three assists, eight shots) and Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov (Oct. 30 vs. Arizona, three assists, seven shots).