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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

Tom Brady inspires New England Patriots to convincing NFL play-off win over Tennessee Titans

Philadelphia Eagles also triumphant as they get the better of the Atlanta Falcons.

It was a night of celebration for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Charles Krupa / AP Photo
It was a night of celebration for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Charles Krupa / AP Photo

The Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans 35-14 on Saturday to move within one win of a return to the NFL's championship showcase.

But the Atlanta Falcons, the team the Patriots stunned in last season's Super Bowl, will not get a shot at redemption after falling 15-10 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Another milestone night for superstar quarterback Tom Brady saw the Patriots roll past the Titans and into their seventh straight American Football Conference title game.

They will face either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers for a berth in the February 4 Super Bowl.

In cold temperatures at the Patriots' Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the Titans seized a 7-0 lead.

But the Patriots responded with a vengeance, with three second-quarter touchdowns giving them a 21-7 half-time lead that they stretched to 35-7 before the Titans tacked on another touchdown in the fourth quarter.

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Brady completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns as he set an NFL record with his 10th career post-season game with three touchdown passes.

Danny Amendola posted his first career 100-yard receiving game, catching 11 passes for 112 yards.

James White scored two touchdowns and Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski scored one apiece while the Patriots defense sacked Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota eight times.

The Patriots had been riled in the run-up to the contest by a bombshell ESPN report that painted a picture of internal strife and a rift between Brady, coach Bill Belichick and billionaire owner Robert Kraft.

But Brady insisted that didn't alter his approach - or his satisfaction in the win.

"I just try to be consistent, show up and do the best I can do every week for the team, regardless of whether I'm the worst quarterback in the league or the best quarterback in the league or somewhere in between," he said.

"My job is to do the best I can do for us every week. It was a good team win today - and we're going to need another one next week."

In Philadelphia, the Eagles did not mind admitting they were motivated by pundits who branded them underdogs against the Falcons despite Philadelphia's No 1 seed in the National Football Conference.

"Keep calling us underdogs, man, keep doing it," defensive end Chris Long crowed. "We love it! Keep it up! We stink!"

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was more reflective.

"I think negativity by so many can certainly fuel you in a positive way and we felt it," Cox said. "We felt disrespected, sure, but it wouldn't have mattered unless we had won, which we did. We earned our respect."

Expectations for the Eagles dipped when quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season ending knee injury on December 10.

Nick Foles - who has struggled to convince since replacing Wentz - finished the game with 246 passing yards, making 23 of 30 attempts.

Foles overcame a slow start to set up a touchdown for LeGarrette Blount from one yard on a brave fourth down play in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 6-3 lead.

Rookie kicker Jake Elliott booted three field goals as the Eagles advanced to a meeting with either the Minnesota Vikings or the New Orleans Saints in the National Football Conference championship game next weekend in Philadelphia.