The New England Patriots are inevitable. The Jacksonville Jaguars had a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was playing the game of his life. Tom Brady had a hurt thumb. Rob Gronkowski, Brady’s trump card, was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first half.
None of it mattered. The Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl and, like the sun setting or Steve Urkel upsetting Carl Winslow with his zany antics, everyone watching knew exactly what was coming.
The Patriots’ rotating cast of dependable characters came up big yet again. Wide receiver Danny Amendola—a player who once got cut by the Dallas Cowboys on HBO’s Hard Knocks—stepped into the starring role. First, Amendola caught a pass on 3rd-and-18 to extend a New England drive that eventually resulted in the first of their two 4th-quarter touchdowns. (Amendola caught both).
It was an amazing pass by Brady that could be called game-saving were it not for the fact that he’d probably just have found another way to rip Jacksonville’s hearts out later in the quarter if he hadn’t converted there.
Amendola’s piece de resistance came with a little under 3 minutes left in the game. His leap and tightrope-quality footwork made it 24-20, a lead New England would not relinquish.
It’s hard not to admire that catch, and even the biggest Patriots-haters would have to tip their caps and say, “Screw this, the Jaguars got robbed on a bogus pass interference call toward the end of the first half that directly led to a New England touchdown.”
Familiarity breeds contempt, but game-winning Tom Brady touchdown drives ceased being merely familiar long ago. They’re inevitable, and players like Danny Amendola making plays like he did against the Jaguars are a big reason for it.