New England Patriots: 6 plays that clinched Super Bowl LII berth


Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl to face the Philadelphia Eagles.

But it wasn’t even close to a walk in the park. These six plays changed the game and ultimately gave the New England Patriots their tenth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

For a second there, I almost thought the Jaguars would be heading to the Super Bowl.

Jacksonville dominated in all three phases early and the game was in jeopardy for the Patriots.

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Imagine how this sounds to a fan of any other team: your team plays in a nailbiter conference championship game and you barely had a doubt. The Patriots are down 10 in the 4th quarter and you still expect to win. Unbelievable.

But things could have gone differently if not for a few plays. In every comeback, there are always plays that swing the momentum and give the losing team a chance (Thanks for the Super Bowl, Falcons!). Here are the six that were the most important.

1. Pass interference on A.J. Bouye to set up a touchdown at the end of the half

The Patriots were down 14-3 and needed points at the end of the half. After the hit on Rob Gronkowski, the Pats had a 1st and 10 from the JAX 45. Looking at the replay, this should not have been called a penalty. Bouye did virtually nothing but was called for PI.

If anything, there was hand fighting on both sides. New England would be set up with a 1st and 10 from the JAX 13 and score two plays later. Instead of going into the half down 14-3 or 14-6, this no call started the comeback and served as a lucky break for the Patriots.

2. Tackle by Devin McCourty to force a Jaguars punt

Dion Lewis fumbled and the Jaguars could REALLY taste the win now. They got the ball in decent field position and had the ball up 10 in the 4th. But on 3rd-and-10, Devin McCourty made an excellent tackle and forced a three and out. The Patriots would score on the next drive and McCourty deserves some of the credit. Without his stop, another minute comes off the clock at least.

3. Danny Amendola 3rd and 18 conversion

At the time it didn’t really feel like it, but this play was a do-or-die play. If the Patriots don’t convert on 3rd down, do they punt? They definitely wouldn’t go for it in their own zone on a 4th and long. Luckily, that scenario was never in question. Tom Brady delivered a bullet into a tight window and Amendola held on. Along with the McCourty stop, this play was the reason the touchdown happened as fast as it did.

Speaking of that…

4. Amendola touchdown

Insane throw. Insane catch. Reminds me of the touchdown in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks to Amendola. Both cut the deficit from ten to three and both were in the back of the end zone. One of a bunch of huge plays by Amendola in this game. Incredible, momentum-swinging play.

5. Stephon Gimore pass break-up on 4th down

On 4th and 14, only a miracle could keep the Jaguars in the game. Stephon Gilmore swatted that miracle right out of the air. A guy who struggled at the beginning of the year and got so much flak from the media was much improved in the second half of the season. There was a reason you haven’t heard his name that much recently: he is locking down every receiver he faces and should never get thrown at.

6. Dion Lewis’ clinching run

Dion Lewis put the nail in the coffin.

Next: Patriots gridiron news: Tom Brady undeniably greatest comeback QB ever

This run on 3rd down officially destroyed the souls of Jaguars fans and New England Patriots haters all across the world. In the words of Joe Buck, “He can keep on running to [Minnesota]”.