It has been a challenging week off the field for the Patriots following reports of turmoil involving Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft. For starters, it was win No. 26 of his postseason career, and the 13th time he's gone over 300 yards passing in the playoffs.
While it all ended with Brady, it didn't exactly begin there. Like the Patriots, the Titans were towards the bottom of the league in pass defense, and have improved to the point where they've finished in the middle of the pack numbers-wise.
Ultimately, Lewis was ruled down by contact after a 31-yard gain. If the Titans defensive backs to make things tough for Brady, the team will need to rely on their running backs to march down the field. That was the largest comeback on the road in the Super Bowl era. He kept the party going Saturday night with not one, but two scores, the second of which gave New England the lead for good with 9:27 left in the second quarter.
The Titans had too many penalties 10 for minus-62 yards, too many mistakes to challenge the Patriots.
Amendola looked fresher than he has all season - it seems the first-round bye did wonders - and whenever Brady needed to move the chains, No. 80 was his guy.
If Brady was not 40, his 81.6 passer rating over the final five games of the season, which he played with a nagging Achilles injury, would be dismissed as part of a season's typical ebb. "Teams" last meeting came in "15, a 33-16 Patriots" win at Foxborough... Eyewitness News also met fans from Texas and Hawaii, showing that New England Nation extends far beyond the region's borders.
Playoff newcomer Stephon Gilmore shined in his debut on the big stage, allowing zero catches on balls thrown in his direction on a mere three targets. "He's had a lot of success bouncing some runs, but at some point you've got to hit some of these holes that are there, and they're not big all the time". He was aided by his blocking QB Marcus Mariota on the run. Flowers and Lee are also expected to be ready for action.
This has the makings of a New England blowout.
The biggest difference is at quarterback.
Many factors go into postseason success in the NFL: Relative experience, preparation, weather, and a simple bounce of an oblong ball, just to name a few. Friendly giant Rob Gronkowski got six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Only one more touchdown was scored, a McNair connection with Derrick Mason late in the third quarter to tie the game. In his sixth season with the team, it was just the 10th postseason carry for Bolden and his first career playoff touchdown.
The Patriots will host either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
Coverage of this game airs on CBS beginning at 8:15 pm ET from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA.