Reigning NFL Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots were a class above as they saw off the Tennessee Titans 35-14 in the divisional round.
Saturday's AFC playoff game at Gillette Stadium saw the Patriots advance to the championship game for a record seventh successive year.
After the Titans grabbed an early 7-0 lead, Tom Brady and the Patriots took control and cruised to victory on home soil.
The Titans (10-8) scored late in the first quarter and had 108 yards of offense.
They managed just 159 yards the rest of the way as the Patriots defense kept the Tennessee ground game that wore down the Kansas City Chiefs last week in check.
Titans running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 156 yards against the Chiefs, managed just 28 yards on 12 carries against the Patriots.
The Patriots (14-3) will host either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game next Sunday.
QUESTIONABLE PENALTIES FAVOURED PATRIOTS
There were two questionable calls in the first half that went in New England's favour. The first was an offensive pass interference call on Titans receiver Eric Decker that wiped out a Tennessee first down. The Titans had to punt from their own 17-yard line and the Patriots capitalised on the short field to take a 14-7 lead on a six-yard James White run.
The second came on a Patriots punt when it appeared New England would be called for a false start. The Titans were instead penalised for inducing a false start and the five-yard penalty gave the Patriots a first down to extend the series. The Patriots capitalised and turned what would have been a three-and-out inside their own 20 into a 16-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan.
The Patriots led the NFL this season in first downs by penalties. While there is no conspiracy in place, those two calls were crucial and were the turning point of the game.
MARIOTA SHOWED PROMISE
The Titans scored first as Marcus Mariota threw a perfect pass to Corey Davis, who made an incredible one-handed diving catch in the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.
The touchdown capped an 11-play, 95-yard drive as Mariota used his arms and legs to convert a pair of third downs. It was all New England after that as Patriots defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia dialled up the pressure on Mariota, who was sacked eight times. Mariota finished 22 of 37 for 254 yards and two touchdowns with 37 rushing yards. While the Titans could not pull off the upset — it did not help that starting right tackle Jack Conklin was forced out with a knee injury in the first half — Mariota showed promise and could have Tennessee as a perennial playoff contender.
LEWIS IS THIS YEAR'S X-FACTOR
Patriots running back James White, who scored twice on Saturday, was New England's playoff hero last season. This year, it looks like Dion Lewis will be that guy. Lewis ran for 896 yards and six touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 214 yards and three scores during the regular season. He came up with multiple big plays, finishing with 62 rushing yards on 15 carries and nine receptions for 79 yards. He caught a short Brady pass on the first play of the second quarter and bolted for what was initially ruled a 50-yard touchdown. The Patriots had to settle for a 31-yard gain, but it set up White's first touchdown as the Patriots answered Tennessee's score.
Brady finished 35 of 53 for 337 yards and three touchdowns as Danny Amendola led all players with 11 catches for 112 yards.
The Patriots are now 8-0 this season when Lewis records more than 100 yards from scrimmage. As long as Patriots offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels continues to give Lewis touches, New England just might win another Super Bowl.
|Patriots´ Devin McCourty reacts to Robert Kraft´s solicitation charges: ´Let it play out´|
|DeRozan humbled by reception on bittersweet Raptors return|
|Thunder´s George: That was a statement|
|Westbrook´s streak ends in Thunder win, Raptors best DeRozan in return|
|Italy, Poland secure World Cup spots|
|WATCH: Raptors pay tribute to DeRozan in return to Toronto|
|Trump on Kraft charge: He´s proclaimed his innocence totally|
|Who is Robert Kraft? The New England Patriots owner who helped build an NFL dynasty|
|Patriots owner Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution|
|Harden: Rude and arrogant Foster should never officiate Rockets|
|Antetokounmpo´s Bucks edge Celtics to extend lead in Eastern Conference|
|Durant blocks Kings rookie Bagley five times in one half|
|Kucherov notches second straight 100-point NHL season|
|Padres confirm Machado´s 10-year, $300m deal|
|Williamson diagnosed with grade one knee sprain|
|This Week in US Sports: Manny Machado finds a home, Williamson gets hurt|
|Serbia progress in the balance with one game to go|
|DeMarcus Cousins blasts college basketball after Zion Williamson injury|
|Duke players, Coach K react to Zion Williamson’s knee injury|
|Barack Obama wishes Zion Williamson a ´speedy recovery´|
|LeBron sends best wishes to top NBA prospect Zion Williamson after injury|
|Duke star Williamson suffers knee injury|
|´Everybody wants to actually talk about bull****´ – Irving angry over Durant video rumours|
|LeBron James ready for Lakers´ playoff push|
|Machado picking Padres over White Sox might´ve been a mistake – Anderson|
|Joel Embiid struggling with knee injury|
|Le´Veon Bell won´t be hit with Steelers´ franchise tag|
|Luka Doncic and LeBron James´ rookie seasons compared|
|Manfred credits Athletics despite missing out on Murray|
|Machado joining Padres would be great - MLB commissioner|
|Riley on LeBron leaving Heat: I saw a dynasty fly out the window|
|White Sox in ´disbelief´ after Machado reportedly picks Padres|
|Machado agrees 10-year, $300m deal with Padres - reports|
|It is time to move on - Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner|
|Former Cowboys QB Tony Romo to play Dallas PGA Tour event|
|Murray: Playing for Cardinals? That would be nice|
|Beal tried recruiting players to Wizards during All-Star break|
|´He´s unreal´ – Warriors´ Curry praises Duke star Zion|
|Iguodala replaces LeBron as VP of NBPA|
|Lakers coach Walton: LeBron and I get along just fine|
|Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after 2019 season|
|I´ll try to keep racking them up - Durant wants more after All-Star MVP|
|Kaepernick may not want to return to the NFL - Allen|
|LeBron focusing on Lakers´ playoff push after All-Star Game|
|Antetokounmpo shines, Nowitzki and Wade can still play – takeaways from NBA All-Star Game|
|Top highlights from Team LeBron´s victory over Team Giannis in NBA All-Star Game|
|Durant earns All-Star Game MVP honours|
|Team LeBron rally past Team Giannis|
|Stroman unhappy with Blue Jays´ lack of veteran leadership|
|What we learned from NBA All-Star Saturday|
|Kaepernick´s attorney tips Patriots to make move for QB|
|Tebow: I told Murray to follow his heart|
|Diallo soars over Shaq to win Slam Dunk contest|
|WATCH: Diallo dunks over Shaquille O´Neal|
|Silver: NBA trade requests should stay behind closed doors|
|´It´s more of an aspiration´ – LeBron clears up potential NBA ownership|
|Harris wins Three-Point contest ahead of Curry|
|Tatum wins NBA Skills Challenge with stunning half-court shot|
|Antonio Brown: Roethlisberger has owner mentality and you can´t call him out|
|NBA, FIBA link up to start 12-team league in Africa|
|LeBron James, Derek Jeter lead praise for retiring Yankees legend CC Sabathia|
|Durant happy for Porzingis but guarded on his own future|
|Stephen Curry reveals three-point contest bet with brother Seth|
|Celtics, Lakers, Knicks on Anthony Davis´ list, along with 26 others|
|LeBron James reacts to Kaepernick´s settlement with NFL: I´m happy he won his suit|
|Giannis to play for Greece at FIBA Basketball World Cup|
|Next question! - Russell Westbrook on All-Star Game team-mate Joel Embiid|
|I would want to be Anthony Davis, says Lakers great Abdul-Jabbar|
|Flyers acquire Talbot from Oilers for Stolarz|
|Kuzma leads USA past Team World|