The Tennessee Titans erased a double-digit deficit to capture a dramatic win in the wild-card round, but they couldn't conjure up the same magic Saturday night.
Instead, the New England Patriots kept their foot on the gas after taking a two-score lead into halftime and downed the Titans 35-14 at Gillette Stadium to clinch their seventh straight AFC Championship Game appearance.
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Patriots book their tickets to the AFC Championship by beating the Titans! https://t.co/wDn3BRFFDr2018-1-14 04:39:55
Tom Brady had no problem picking apart Tennessee's 25th-ranked pass defense and spread the ball around to seven different receivers as he finished 35-of-53 for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back James White was the recipient of Brady's first passing score in the second quarter, and he added to his touchdown total on the Patriots' ensuing drive when he plunged into the end zone from six yards out:
He's in. AGAIN. @SweetFeet_White scores his SECOND TD of the night! #GoPats #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/VtvcVcusBT2018-1-14 02:20:13
White, who has two rushing touchdowns in 47 career regular-season games, has now scored on the ground three times in the postseason dating back to the Patriots' Super Bowl 51 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Dion Lewis tacked on 24 touches and compiled 141 yards from scrimmage, while the seldom-seen Brandon Bolden joined the party with a two-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots a three-score lead in the third quarter.
On the receiving front, Danny Amendola hauled in a team-high 11 receptions for 112 yards, and tight end Rob Gronkowski chipped in six catches for 81 yards and a score.
Former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz broke down the factors that allowed New England's offense to flourish:
Geoff Schwartz @geoffschwartz
The Patriots are the best in the NFL at morphing their offense to their opponent. I admire them so much for this. This game, tons of passes. Titans have a decent run D, plus tempo. Get those big guys tired up front.2018-1-14 03:17:01
The same couldn't be said of the Titans.
Although Tennessee proved feisty out of the gate when Corey Davis snared a 15-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota in spectacular fashion, the offense didn't put up points again until garbage time.
This was just... WOW. Marcus Mariota with the dime. @TheCDavis84 with the one-handed grab! #TitanUp #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/RdK6XmtCoV2018-1-14 01:50:26
Mariota ultimately finished 22-of-37 for 254 yards, while running back Derrick Henry—who erupted for 156 yards a week ago against the Kansas City Chiefs—was limited to 12 carries for 28 yards after the Titans abandoned the run with New England firmly in control.
Back in familiar territory, the AFC East champions will host either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 21 as they attempt to rattle off consecutive trips to the Super Bowl.