Patriots blast Titans for 7th straight trip to AFC Championship game

The New England Patriots turned a 7-0 first-quarter deficit into a 21-7 halftime lead, and were never challenged again as they crushed the Tennessee Titans 35-14, sending the Patriots to their seventh straight AFC Championship game.

Tom Brady passed Joe Montana with his 10th career postseason game with three touchdown passes, setting a new record. Brady completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards. In doing so, he also extended his own playoff record to 13 playoff games with at least 300 yards passing.

The Titans opened the scoring with a 95-yard drive, taking the lead with 1:14 left in the first when Marcus Mariota hit Corey Davis on a 15-yard scoring play giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.

But, it was all New England after that. The Pats scored on their next three possessions before halftime. Brady hit James White with a 5-yard TD pass after a 73-yard, 7-play drive.

After a Tennessee punt, White scored again, this time on a 6-yard run to put the Pats ahead 14-7. The Patriots added on with 1:52 left in the first half when Chris Hogan caught a 4-yard toss from Brady after a 16-play, 91-yard drive. New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 53-yard field goal with :17 left, but the Pats took a 21-7 lead into the locker room.

The Patriots added two more scores in the second half, the first on a 2-yard run by Brandon Bolden with 4:02 left in the third quarter. Then in the fourth quarter, Brady found Rob Gronkowski from 4-yards for their final TD.

The Titans offense was held in check after the first quarter, but Tennessee scored with less than 2-minutes left in the game when Davis caught an 11-yard toss from Mariota, making the final score 35-14.

The Pats bested Tennessee 438-267 in total yards. One of the most telling stats was on third-down efficiency as New England converted 11 of 17 third downs while the Titans were 5 of 15. Mariota completed 22 of 37 passes for 254 yards with much of that coming on the final drive. The Patriots’ defense came up big sacking Mariota 8 times.

New England will host the winner of Sunday’s AFC Divisional matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.