Thursday 22 February 2018 / 04:53 PM

NFL WRAP: PATRIOTS, EAGLES BOOK SUPER BOWL LII SPOTS

A rematch of the 2004 Super Bowl was confirmed as the New England Patriots stormed home to beat a valiant Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles ran rampant at the expense of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL’s Conference Finals.

Here’s a wrap of all the action from the penultimate round of the season.

Patriots comeback earns eighth Brady-era Super Bowl appearance

A pair of Tom Brady to Danny Amendola strikes in the fourth quarter led New England to a 24-20 comeback victory over Jacksonville, booking the Patriots a spot in the biggest game of the year yet again.

While Bill Belichick’s men took a 3-0 lead into the end of the first quarter, they looked in serious trouble after Marcedes Lewis caught a lob for the lead and Leonard Fournette barreled through the middle of the Pats’ defence for a second touchdown a short time later.

Two field goals off boot of Josh Lambo gave the Jaguars a 20-10 lead in the fourth, and after Myles Jack recovered a strip on Dion Lewis minutes later, Jacksonville looked relatively comfortable.

But this is the time when Brady earns his money, and after a finding Amendola for a catch and run TD to get them back in the game, No.12 iced it with a clutch drive that ended in Amendola catching at the back of the end zone and dragging his feet for the game-winner.

Star of the show

If Brady was the gun used to kill Jacksonville’s dreams, Amendola was the bullet. The 32-year-old receiver was huge for New England in the fourth quarter, bringing in a number of important catches and rising to the occasion to clock two touchdowns.

Amendola caught a big first down pass in the lead up to his TD with nine minutes to go, then showed excellent awareness to not only catch the winner, but get his feet down in the narrowest of corridors.

The big moments

A gutsy call at that point in the game, with a huge reward. This sneaky fourth-quarter flea flicker was executed to perfection by Brady and Phillip Dorsett.

This was the moment hope died for Jacksonville. On third and nine, running back Lewis scooted for 18 yards to ensure the clock, if nothing else, would make sure Jacksonville didn’t get the chance to stage a late comeback.

Foles flies Eagles into Super Bowl

Philadelphia made a commanding statement on their way to Super Bowl LII, demolishing NFC North champions Minnesota 38-7 and carving up a defence which prior to the Conference Finals was considered one of the best around.

A week on from the elation of a last-minute comeback victory over the Saints, Minnesota looked very much like a team who had already played their Super Bowl.

Their much-praised defence hardly inconvenienced the Eagles, while with the ball in hand they struggled to generate any significant offence in the face of an aggressive Philadelphia front.

Evenly matched through a first quarter where scores were tied at seven apiece, the Eagles and Vikings were anything but from that point on, as LeGarrette Blount stepped and smashed through from close range before Foles found Alshon Jeffery on a long-range rocket while under heavy pressure.

Up 24-7 at the half, the Eagles didn’t take their foot off the pedal, burning the Vikings with a creative 41-yard flea flicker before Jeffery grabbed hold of Foles’ third TD throw of the game in the fourth, booking Philly’s first Super Bowl appearance since 2004.

Star of the show

Even after guiding his team through the divisional play-offs, the total disregard for the talents of Nick Foles was evident among NFL fans on social media last week.

That will matter very little now, as Foles, who just over a month ago was Phiilly’s back-up QB, prepares to go to the Super Bowl.

Across the game Foles failed to convert just seven of his 33 attempted passes, throwing for 352 yards with three touchdowns and a 141 passer rating.

The big moments

Patrick Robinson’s pick six for Philadelphia’s opening score was a thing of beauty. After picking off an ordinary throw from Case Keenum, Robinson went coast to coast, directing his blockers with hand movements the whole way, to dance into the corner for a touchdown.

This play should have ended in a sack, but instead turned into a massive 53-yard touchdown for Jeffery, thanks to the Eagles’ offensive line refusing to give an inch, and the composure of Foles while surrounded by several angry men who wanted to hurt him.

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About the author

Corey Rosser

One of CBS’s newest contributors, Te Aroha product Corey is the New Zealand correspondent for NRL.com, the editor for the excellent new site Kiwi League Central, and a guru of the local Auckland rugby league scene.

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