Tom Brady and the New England Patriots produced a stirring comeback to reach the Super Bowl for a 10th time with a 24-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.
Jacksonville, having stunningly knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round, dominated an absorbing contest at Gillette Stadium for long periods and led 14-3 at one point in the first half.
The Jaguars held a 20-10 advantage in the fourth quarter and, with tight end Rob Gronkowski out with a concussion, Jacksonville appeared in prime position to pull off a staggering upset.
But the 40-year-old Brady, whose condition throughout the week had been the subject of much speculation after injuring his hand in practice, led the Patriots all the way back, producing a recovery akin to the 25-point turnaround he pulled off in Super Bowl LI.
First he capped an eight-play drive with a nine-yard strike to Danny Amendola and, after a quick three-and-out and short Jacksonville punt that was returned well into Jaguars territory by Amendola, the same receiver produced a magnificent catch at the back of the endzone to complete a remarkable revival.
Brady completed all six of his passes on the Patriots' opening drive, but they were restricted to a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal after a third-down sack from Dante Fowler.
But from then on Jacksonville took control, quarterback Blake Bortles leading touchdown drives that were finished off by a four-yard pass to Marcedes Lewis and a four-yard run by Leonard Fournette.
Hope for New England came as running back Dion Lewis crossed for a score following a contentious pass interference penalty on A.J. Bouye on the drive that saw Gronkowski concussed on a hit from Barry Church.
A pair of second-half Josh Lambo field goals nudged Jacksonville further ahead and, when Myles Jack forced and recovered a Lewis fumble, the Jaguars would have been forgiven for thinking their job was almost done.
Jacksonville could not capitalise on that turnover and then allowed Brady to convert on third-and-18 with a 21-yard throw to Amendola, who cut the gap to seven before a leaping acrobatic grab put the Patriots in the lead for good.
The Jaguars still had time to respond but a fourth-down pass from Bortles to Dede Westbrook was brilliantly broken up by Stephon Gilmore, with Lewis then converting a key third down for New England that allowed them to run out the clock and put Brady a win away from becoming the first player to win six Super Bowl titles.
|Benzema: I know I must score more goals|
|Maybe journalists criticise because they can´t play football – Marcelo defends Lopetegui|
|Manning on trade rumours: It´s hard to imagine being with another organisation|
|Shaw: Man United showed too much respect to Juve|
|CAF Champions League Review: Al Ahly to face ES Tunis in final|
|76ers star Simmons dealing with back tightness|
|Roma boss Di Francesco hails ´extraordinary´ Dzeko|
|Pizzi and Jardel rue Benfica´s Ajax reverse|
|Championship Review: Leaders held at home, Smith suffers first Aston Villa defeat|
|Mourinho suggests Manchester United must spend to rejoin European elite|
|Manchester City reached their peak against Shakhtar - Guardiola|
|I really missed that winning feeling – Kroos|
|Lopetegui believes Real Madrid win can be turning point|
|Allegri: Juventus still making too many mistakes|
|Cole leads unbeaten Avellino to overtime victory|
|Mourinho hails ´amazing´ Chiellini and Bonucci after Juventus outclass United|
|Simeone glad to have Costa back for Dortmund clash|
|Lopetegui to remain in charge for El Clasico - Butragueno|
|Isner saves two match points to beat Norrie, Federer grinds out victory|
|Icardi happy at Inter ahead of Barca return|
|Marcelino satisfied with point after Valencia hold on at Young Boys|
|Hoffenheim 3 Lyon 3: Joelinton rescues a point after Kramaric´s double|
|Ajax 1 Benfica 0: Last-gasp Mazraoui seals dramatic win|
|Roma 3 CSKA Moscow 0: Dzeko turns on the style|
|Kovac lauds dominant Bayern|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Manchester City 3: Silva sparkle to dominant display|
|Manchester United 0 Juventus 1: Dybala downs Mourinho´s men on Ronaldo´s return|
|Real Madrid 2 Viktoria Plzen 1: Benzema and Marcelo´s goals give holders first win in six|
|Lakers´ Rondo denies spitting on Rockets´ Paul|
|Robben and Rafinha want more from Bayern|
|Federer survives Krajinovic scare to maintain Basel run|
|Green accuses NBA of double standards, calls Lakers-Rockets suspensions ´garbage´|
|New York Giants send Apple to Saints|
|Morgan aims to solve Colombo mystery after record ODI defeat|
|AEK Athens 0 Bayern Munich 2: Lewandowski helps to further ease Kovac woes|
|Young Boys 1 Valencia 1: Hoarau penalty denies Marcelino´s men|
|Mourinho walks to Old Trafford as United arrive late again for Champions League|
|Bale and Benzema back for Madrid as Lopetegui rings changes|
|Carr denies ´fractured relationship´ with Raiders team-mates|
|De Bruyne to start for Manchester City against Shakhtar Donetsk|
|France lose Le Roux and Fofana for November Tests|
|Martino to leave Atlanta United amid Mexico links|
|Pochettino cautious over Eriksen return|
|Ancelotti an inspiration for PSG boss Tuchel|
|Persepolis 1 Al Sadd 1 (2-1 agg): Iranians into first AFC Champions League final|
|Wales boss Gatland returns to New Zealand after father´s death|
|Sri Lanka hand England their heaviest ODI defeat|
|Nuggets guard Will Barton undergoes surgery|
|Surprise package Svitolina closes in on semi-final berth|
|Alexander-Arnold targets glory at home and abroad|
|Pogba relishing emotional Juventus reunion|
|Alba hopes Lopetegui keeps Real Madrid job|
|Valverde not expecting Messi magical recovery|
|Wozniacki calms fears over knee injury|
|Maybe it´s my interviews - Klopp on Liverpool´s room for improvement|
|Language no barrier to Dortmund dangermen Reus and Alcacer|
|EPCR confirms no replay of Bath-Toulouse Champions Cup fixture|
|F1 Raceweek: Five the magic number as Hamilton eyes Mexico repeat|
|RFU to introduce in-season breaks for players|
|Nainggolan misses Barcelona trip|
|Wozniacki battles through knee complaint to down Kvitova|
|Alcacer: Two seasons at Barcelona not lost|
|Henderson, Keita to miss Liverpool´s Red Star clash|
|Khabib holds talks over Mayweather Moscow fight|
|Wolf in for Titz as Hamburg try to stop slump|
|Davies released from Wales squad as Evans comes in|
|Mbappe on track to match Messi and Ronaldo, says Giuly|
|Coleman, Kipchoge and Lyles among IAAF Male World Athlete of the Year shortlist|
|Serena Williams will win slams again sooner or later, says Seles|
|You always want the best – Ter Stegen open to Neymar return|