FOXBORO, Mass. – The Jaguars' remarkably memorable season fell a game short.
And it did so with one of the NFL's most-storied franchises – and storied quarterbacks – pulling off yet another remarkable victory in a pressure moment.
Four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady, who missed practice Thursday with a hand injury, rallied the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to a 24-20 victory over the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., Sunday afternoon.
Brady completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, with his four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining giving the Patriots their first lead of the second half.
The Jaguars drove to the Patriots 38 on the ensuing possession with a 29-yard pass from quarterback Blake Bortles to rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook giving them first down there. Bortles' 4th-and-19 pass to Westbrook was incomplete with 1:47 remaining.
The Patriots ran out the clock on the ensuing possession.
The Patriots will play in their second consecutive Super Bowl and third in four seasons in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday February 4. The Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles play in Philadelphia for the NFC Championship Sunday evening.
The Jaguars took a 14-3 first-half lead with Bortles throwing a four-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis and rookie running back Leonard Fournette running for a four-yard second-quarter touchdown.
The Patriots scored on a one-yard run by running back James White late in the first half, and Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo converted a field goal from 54 yards early in the third quarter to give the Jaguars a 17-10 lead and set up a dramatic final 25 minutes.
The Jaguars forced punts on the two Patriots possessions after Lambo's field goal, then put together a 66-yard drive at the end of the third quarter that ended with a 42-yard field goal by Lambo that made it 20-10 with 14:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack ended the ensuing Patriots possession by stripping the ball from running back Deon Lewis and recovering the fumble at the Jaguars 33, but the Jaguars punted quickly and the Patriots cut the lead to three on their ensuing possession.
Brady passed nine yards to Amendola to make it 20-17, Jaguars, with 8:44 remaining.
Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. registered two first-half sacks, joining defensive end Clyde Simmons and defensive tackle Gary Walker as the only players in franchise history with two sacks in a postseason game. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus also had a sack for the Jaguars, who finished with three for the game.
Step by step:
*The Patriots inched ahead early with a quick drive on the game's first possession, with Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard goal making it 3-0 with 9:21 remaining. Brady on the drive completed six of six passes for 57 yards, including a 31-yard pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 20-yard pass to Amendola, the latter of which converted 4th-and-1 from the Jaguars 30.
*The Jaguars took their first lead with 14:15 remaining in the second quarter, with Bortles' four-yard touchdown pass to Lewis capping a 76-yard drive that began late in the first quarter. Reserve running back Corey Grant caught two passes on the drive for 44 yards, and his 24-yard reception gave the Jaguars 1st-and-goal at the Patriots 4. They extended the lead to 14-3 when Fournette rushed for a four-yard touchdown with 7:06 remaining in the second quarter; the Jaguars had rushed for 52 yards at that point and Grant caught a 15-yard pass early in the drive to convert 1st-and-15. The Patriots cut the lead to 14-10 at the end of the half, with James White's one-yard run capping an 85-yard drive that ended with :55 remaining in the second quarter. The Jaguars were penalized for 47 yards on the drive – 15 yards for safety Barry Church hitting tight end Rob Gronkowski and 32 yards for cornerback A.J. Bouye interfering with Cooks.
*Lambo's 54-yard field goal capped the first possession of the second half and pushed the Jaguars' lead to 17-10 with 10:23 remaining; Lambo's field goal was his 14th in succession and the longest in Jaguars postseason history. …
*Lambo's 42-yarder pushed the lead to 10, but the Jaguars were hurt by a big Patriots conversion early in the fourth quarter. Brady converted 3rd-and-18 with a 21-yard pass to Amendola early in the possession to keep the drive alive; it was the longest third down the Jaguars had allowed this season.
*Notable: When Lewis' four-yard touchdown reception gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, it was the 17th time in their last 18 red-zone possessions the Jaguars had scored a touchdown. They extended that statistic to 18 touchdowns in19 drives on the ensuing possession. … Fournette's second-quarter touchdown run gave him four career postseason touchdowns, the most in franchise history. …. Free safety Tashaun Gipson played for the Jaguars Sunday after missing Wednesday and Thursday practice with a foot injury sustained in a Divisional Playoff victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday. …
*Injury report: Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and returned; Josh Wells played in his place. … Dareus sustained a fourth-quarter ankle injury. … Jack sustained a fourth-quarter ankle injury. … Jaguars inactives Sunday: Running back Chris Ivory, nose tackle Eli Ankou, linebacker Deon King, defensive end Carroll Phillips, offensive guard Chris Reed, offensive lineman Josh Walker and offensive lineman William Poehls. …
*What's next: The Jaguars finished the season 12-7.