Last night the New England Patriots punched their ticket to Houston, Texas for Super Bowl 51 with a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship.
Gillette Stadium was rocking the entire night as Tom Brady had one of the best games of his career, throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots won the coin toss and elected to receive for the first time all season and Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 31 yard field goal on the opening drive to give New England a 3-0 lead. They never looked back.
Patriots’ wide receiver Chris Hogan had a huge game and was Brady’s favorite target all night, setting a Patriots playoff record with nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The former Penn State lacrosse player found gaps in the Pittsburgh secondary and was Brady’s security blanket when Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell were being well defended.
The Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell to a groin injury after just 6 carries and 20 yards but Ben Roethlisberger kept them in the game with his arm. Three different Steelers ended the day with seven catches and Big Ben threw for 314 yards and a touchdown. It just wasn’t enough.
The Patriots defense did a great job in the red zone yet again, including forcing a field goal after facing first and goal inside the one yard line and forcing a Ben Roethlisberger interception to all but seal the game with just over ten minutes remaining.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick advance to their 7th Super Bowl since 2001 and this one will take a near perfect performance to win. The Falcons have rolled through the playoffs with huge home wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers by a combined 39 points. Matt Ryan may have clinched the MVP after his four touchdown performance yesterday and has been picking apart defenses at an elite level.
This game will surely be a shootout and whoever said defense wins championships could not have been more wrong. This is a quarterback driven league and the league’s best are squaring off for the crown. What could be better?