Nick Foles had the Philadelphia Eagles on what could have been a game-winning drive, when with two minutes remaining and just 30 yards out from the end zone, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery allowed Foles’ pass to slip through his hands before Marcus Lattimore intercepted, taking New Orleans to within one game of the Super Bowl.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints)
The Saints got two touchdown passes from Drew Brees, two interceptions from Lattimore, and rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 to advance to the NFC championship game.
Using a dominant ball-control offence after a horrendous start, Brees took the Saints on scoring drives of 92, 79 and 67 yards. And a few gambles paid off to assure New Orleans will host the Rams next Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles, which fell 45-35 at the Superdome in November, will try again next week, with the winner taking on either Kansas City or New England in the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
Wil Lutz added two field goals for the Saints, who last got this far in 2009, when they won the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia’s Australian punter Cameron Johnston had a strong game, booting the Eagles deep into the Saints’ territory with five punts averaging 48.2 yards.
He had a long of 54 yards and three of his bombs dropped inside the Saints’ 20-yard line.
Philadelphia will not repeat as NFL champion; no team has done so since the 2004 Patriots.
BRADY FIRED UP BY HATERS AS PATS WIN
Tom Brady and the Patriots ran riot against the vaunted defence of the Los Angeles Chargers in a 41-28 rout at Foxborough, where Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and had three touchdowns and Julian Edelman had nine catches for 151 yards.
The result — the Patriots advance to their eighth straight AFC championship game.
BIG DAWGS GOTT EAT 🍽 Sony Michel scores 2nd rushing TD of the day vs Chargers 🤑 pic.twitter.com/6PapbO9T6Y— VERSACEBOYENT (@VersaceBoyEnt2)
New England will play at Kansas City in next week’s AFC title game. The Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 in Foxborough in Week 6.
It is the 13th conference championship game appearance by the Patriots during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Brady said of the rematch with the Chiefs.
“They’re a good team. We played them earlier this year. I know everybody thinks we suck and, you know, we can’t win any games, so we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”
Brady finished 34 of 44 for 343 yards and a touchdown in the 15th 300-yard passing game of his storied career and improved to an 8-0 record as a starter against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who drops to 1-8 against New England, despite throwing for 331 yards and three touchdowns.
— Roto Street Journal (@RotoStJournal)
New England scored on its first four possessions of the game to build a 35-7 halftime lead.
The Chargers added three touchdowns in the second half, but it was much too late.
Los Angeles lost for just the second time on the road and first time outside Los Angeles this season.
In its past four trips to the playoffs, Los Angeles has lost in the divisional round.
Rivers seemed poised to keep Los Angeles in the game, connecting with Keenan Allen for a 43-yard score on Los Angeles’ first offensive possession. It was the longest touchdown of Allen’s career, including the postseason. It turned out to be just a blip. The Chargers punted the four other times they had the ball in the first half.
The Patriots were efficient throughout the opening 30 minutes, going 5 for 5 in the red zone, 5 of 6 on third down and committing only one penalty.
New England didn’t go three-and-out for the first time until its fifth offensive touch of the day when it punted with 3:32 left in the second quarter. But Ryan Allen’s 48-yard punt was fumbled by Desmond King, sending the ball rolling toward the sideline.
The referees ruled the ball went out of bounds before New England’s Albert McClellan appeared to recover it but the play was reversed after a challenge by Bill Belichick.
The turnover proved costly, with the Patriots scoring just four plays later when Michel crossed the goal line from 5 yards for his third touchdown of the half.
New England established the run early, creating big holes in a Chargers defence that ended the regular season ranked ninth in the NFL, allowing just 106 rushing yards per game.
Michel carried 16 times for 105 yards in the first half.
He set the tone early, scoring from 1 yard on the opening possession of the game. It capped a 14-play, 83-yard drive in which he rushed five times for 15 yards and had a 9-yard reception.