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Bortles: 'Our destiny is in our hands'


JACKSONVILLE – Blake Bortles talked on Friday.

The Jaguars' quarterback did that because that's what NFL starting quarterbacks do two days prior to their team playing in conference title games, even when there's little new ground to cover.

Bortles, who talked to the media on his usual time on Wednesday, therefore didn't offer too much new in his pre-AFC Championship Game media availability at EverBank Field Friday afternoon.

He did say he hadn't noticed a major difference in how the Jaguars prepared this week compared to how they prepared for their 16 regular-season games and two postseason victories.

"It's all the same," Bortles said as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (12-6) prepared to play the AFC East Champion and defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (14-3) in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

"I know personally, my schedule, my routines have been all the same."

Defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson are the only Jaguars players to have played in a conference title game. Jackson was a member of the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl championship team following the 2015 season. Campbell played in the Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals following the 2008 season.

"We're in a bit of a unique situation where there's not a whole lot of guys on the team who have been to an AFC Championship Game, or any championship game for that matter in the NFL," Bortles said. "I don't think anybody knows any different. We're just continuing to do what we've done all year long and what's been successful for us, be locked in through the walk-through, be locked in meetings and out at practice and getting our work done and making sure we're making corrections and doing all the right things and getting as ready and prepared as possible.

"We're trying to have as much fun with it as we can as well because I think everybody kind of realizes that we're getting an opportunity to continue to play with this group of guys and our destiny is in our hands. We win, we get to stay together and keep playing.

"It's been a unique and I think special trip throughout these playoffs."

Bortles was asked at the beginning of the media availability if he had seen either of the Super Bowls in which the Patriots had lost to the New York Giants. Those games came following the 2007 and 2011 seasons when current Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin was the Giants' head coach.

"I'm sure I was at a Super Bowl shindig," Bortles said, then added of the Super Bowl following the 2007 when Giants receiver David Tyree memorable caught a key pass by pinning the ball to his helmet: "One of them was the helmet catch, right? I remember that.

"I don't remember the other one, though. I saw bits and pieces of it, but didn't get a chance to watch the whole game from the beginning to end."

Bortles, as Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone did early in the week, said he wasn't bothered by the Patriots being heavy favorites. New England has won five Super Bowls since 2002.

"At this point, anybody that goes up to play New England in New England will be an underdog with what they've done the past seven to eight years, or however long it's been," Bortles said.

The Jaguars won an AFC Divisional Playoff in Pittsburgh last week after entering the game with the Steelers favored by more than a touchdown.

"I'd assume it's similar going into this week," Bortles said. "Our guys in the locker room do a good job of ignoring that stuff and going up there and expecting to play as well as we can and hopefully we score one more point than they do. …

"I don't look at anything outside of what we can do and what we can control. It's the same thing throughout the week as far as preparation and getting ready for these guys and we understand and I understand that we're going to have to play a good football game to beat these guys.

"There's a reason they [the Patriots] have been there for so many years in a row and have had so much success. We're going to have to be on top of it in order to win."

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