Brady rallies Patriots past Jaguars in AFC Championship Game thriller

Let there be no more questions about Tom Brady’s hand.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback threw for 290 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit with nine minutes remaining to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Mass.

Brady, who suffered a cut on his right hand when he collided with a teammate in practice Wednesday, found Danny Amendola from nine yards out to cut New England's deficit to 20-17 with 8:50 to play and cap an eight-play, 85-yard drive.

After Jacksonville's offense went three-and-out inside their own 10-yard line, Amendola returned the ensuing punt to the Jaguars 30. Five plays later, Brady -- wearing a black bandage on his right hand -- found Amendola in the back of the end zone from four yards out for what proved to be the winning score with 2:48 remaining.

"I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win."

Jacksonville had one more chance, but often-maligned cornerback Stephon Gilmore broke up a fourth-and-14 pass by Blake Bortles and a first-down run by Dion Lewis sealed a trip to New England's eighth Super Bowl with Bill Belichick as the head coach and Brady at quarterback.

The Patriots pulled off the comeback without star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed the second half with a concussion after taking a hit to the head from Jaguars safety Barry Church in the second quarter.

The Patriots will play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times -- including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.

Brady came out for warmups without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes -- including a 20-yarder to Amendola on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars 30 -- for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard field goal.

El wide receiver Danny Amendola (80), de los Patriots de Nueva Inglaterra, atrapa el pase de touchdown definitivo ante el safety Tashaun Gipson (39) y el linebacker Paul Posluszny (51), de los Jaguars de Jacksonville, en el duelo por el campeonato de la Conferencia Americana de la NFL, el domingo 21 de enero de 2018, en Foxborough, Massachusetts. (AP Foto/David J. Phillip)

Danny Amendola catches the winning score in the back of the end zone with 2:48 remaining.  (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bortles, who was 5 for 5 for 66 yards on an impressive and efficient seven-play, 76-yard drive.

Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run, hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.

The Jaguars made some big mistakes that hurt them just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game -- after New England called a timeout.

That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt.

With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England's offense took over and the fans chanted "Bra-dy! Bra-dy!"

And their quarterback delivered -- with some help from the Jaguars on two long penalties.

On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who got popped by Church just as the ball was arriving. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 45.

A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play on an incomplete throw for Brandin Cooks. The 32-yard penalty put the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, James White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10 with 55 seconds left.

Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.

But Brady & Co. were just getting started.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.