Dion Lewis tallied 11 yards on six carries while securing both of his targets for eight yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Lewis emerged as New England’s clear lead back last week but played fewer snaps than both LeGarrette Blount and James White Sunday against Pittsburgh. New England’s run game was nonexistent until the second half and at that point the Patriots mostly leaned on Blount to kill clock. No team is more game-plan-dependent than the shape-shifter Patriots. We’ll see what they cook up against Atlanta in Super Bowl XLI.
James White carried the ball once for no gain while catching three-of-four targets for eight yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
During the regular season, White finished third among running backs in both catches (60) and receiving yards (551). However, he’s had a hard time carving a role for himself since Dion Lewis returned from knee surgery. He only played two fewer snaps than LeGarrette Blount on Sunday but was out-touched 17-4. At the very least, White will mix in on passing downs when he suits up against the Falcons in Super Bowl XLI.
Malcolm Mitchell nabbed just one-of-four targets for five yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Mitchell’s only catch came on the Patriots’ opening drive. On that same possession, Mitchell dropped a pass on third down, forcing New England to settle for a field goal. He was only targeted twice more after that. Mitchell was understandably rusty coming off a month-long absence. The fourth-round rookie will look to redeem himself against the Falcons in Super Bowl XLI.
Martellus Bennett secured all five of his targets for 32 yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Bennett did well to catch all of his targets but took a backseat to Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman as those two combined for 298 of New England’s 384 passing yards. It was reported Sunday that Bennett has been playing with a cracked bone and bone spurs in his ankle and will likely need surgery after the season. He’ll get one more game in before he goes under the knife. That will come two weeks from now when the Patriots square off against the Falcons in Super Bowl XLI.
Julian Edelman snagged eight-of-10 targets for 118 yards and a touchdown Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Edelman has been rolling since Rob Gronkowski went out with a season-ending back injury and that trend continued in Sunday’s AFC title game. He ate up 41 yards on a catch-and-run on the Patriots’ opening drive and never took his foot off the gas. Edelman scored his fifth career playoff touchdown on a 10-yard strike from Tom Brady late in the third quarter. He’s now the Patriots all-time leader in postseason receiving yards with 937 and also set an NFL record with Chris Hogan for the most receiving yards by two teammates in a postseason game. This marks Edelman’s third trip to the Super Bowl.
LeGarrette Blount rushed 16 times for 47 yards and a touchdown and caught his only target for eight yards Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Blount has spent the past month playing second fiddle to Dion Lewis but that changed on Sunday as he led the backfield with 17 touches. He was mostly held in check but did break out for a big run in the second half. Blount carried a host of defenders on his back en route to a highlight-reel 18-yard scramble in the third quarter. He plunged ahead for a one-yard touchdown on the following play. New England’s running game comes and goes but when they’re committed to it, the 250-pound Blount is always tough to bring down. Blount and the Patriots are headed to Super Bowl XLI, where they will take on the Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston two weeks from today.
Chris Hogan corralled nine-of-12 targets for 180 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
If they ever make a 30-for-30 about Hogan’s career, this game might be a good place to start. There was legitimate concern about how effective Hogan would be this week after sporting a noticeable limp in the locker room after Friday’s practice. Hogan erased any doubts about his health by having the game of his life, setting career-highs in yards, catches and touchdowns. He ran circles around the Steelers’ overmatched secondary while breaking Deion Branch’s team record for most receiving yards in a postseason game. Hogan was left wide open on his first touchdown of the night and later scored a 34-yarder on a perfectly executed flea-flicker by Tom Brady. Next up for Hogan and the Pats is a Super Bowl XLI matchup against the NFC Champion Falcons. That game will be held in Houston two weeks from today.
Tom Brady completed 32-of-42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns and rushed four times for a loss of one yard Sunday in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Steelers.
Coming off a sluggish game against Houston in the Divisional Round, Brady was near-perfect Sunday in a convincing win over the Steelers. New England came out gunning, peppering the Pittsburgh secondary with short passes. That opened up things downfield for Chris Hogan, who led the way with a career-high 180 yards on nine catches. Brady delivered a spot-on flea-flicker to Hogan, who took it 34 yards for the score. He also dished out a 10-yard touchdown strike to Julian Edelman late in the third quarter, which essentially put the game out of reach. Brady is throwing the deep ball as well as he ever has and simply doesn’t make mistakes when he has time to throw. A win over the Falcons in Super Bowl XLI would cement Brady’s status as the greatest quarterback of all-time.