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Boston LHP Brian Johnson
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Give `em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.
Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining [url=http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-dallas-goedert-jersey]Dallas Goedert Youth Jersey[/url] , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.
Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.
And, with the game – and the season – possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.
”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.”
Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola for the Patriots (15-3), who’ll play Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.
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.
”It’s pretty amazing. Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it’s just a great accomplishment,” Brady said. ”I’m just so proud of everyone on our team, we made so many great plays. Defense played so great when they needed to.”
Blake Bortles and the Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold against the defending champions. The NFL’s second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England’s winning drive.
”It’s a locker room obviously with a lot of pain [url=http://www.jaguarscheapstore.com/taven-bryan-jersey-cheap]Taven Bryan Jaguars Jersey[/url] ,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. ”I’m sure they’re hurting inside. I’m hurting. The players are hurting.”
With New England trailing 20-17, Amendola returned a punt 20 yards to put the ball at the Jaguars 30. Brady hit James White for 15 yards, Amendola for 8 and then the quarterback ran up the middle for 2 yards and a first down.
On first-and-goal from the 5, White ran for a yard to set up the go-ahead score from Brady to Amendola.
Jacksonville – looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history – had one more shot, but Bortles’ throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.
”Guys are upset,” Bortles said. ”It’s not what anybody expects – contrary to popular belief. Those guys fully expected to win that game.”
The Patriots ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis’ 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they played most of the game without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left late in the first half and didn’t return.
Brady’s hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since his ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s right ankle tendon – the bloody sock – in the 2004 playoffs.
Brady hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week.
”Of all the plays, my season wasn’t going to end on a handoff in practice,” Brady said.
”Mentally, it probably stressed him out a bit,” Amendola said. ”It’s hard to throw a football with stitches in your thumb. Everybody knows how tough he is.”
Some Patriots fans were worried, but not Belichick.
”He’s a tough guy, we all know that [url=http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/joe-namath-jersey]Joe Namath Jets Jersey[/url] ,” Belichick said. ”But we’re not talking about open heart surgery here.”
Brady warmed up without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes 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.
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 Bortles .
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 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.
That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt. Jacksonville was called for six penalties that cost the Jaguars 98 yards, while New England was penalized just once.
With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England’s offense took over and the fans chanted ”Braa-dy! Braa-dy!”
And their quarterback delivered – with some help from two big penalties.
On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville’s 45.
”It was a tough call,” Church said, ”but you’ve got to go with what they call.”
A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play. The 32-yard penalty gave the Patriots the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10.
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 Just stepping into the batter’s box to face good friend and former teammate Max Scherzer was a special occasion for Rick Porcello.
A career American League pitcher with 35 plate appearances on his resume going up against a three-time Cy Young Award-winner had mismatch written all over it. Instead, Porcello hit a three-run double off Scherzer that set the stage for the Boston Red Sox beating the Washington Nationals 4-3 in the opener of their three-game interleague series Monday night.
”I got lucky [url=http://www.pantherscheapstore.com/dj-moore-jersey-cheap]DJ Moore Youth Jersey[/url] ,” Porcello said. ”He got to the top of his windup and I told myself, `Start swinging.’ Then I hit it.”
Porcello’s first major league extra-base hit came in the second inning on an 0-2 pitch after the Nationals intentionally walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to pitch to him. His .156 batting average and limited hitting experience made it appear to be the right calculation, but Porcello drove Scherzer’s 96 mph fastball over the head of Juan Soto in left center for his first RBIs since 2009.
”You don’t hit for an entire year,” said Porcello, who came in with five hits and two RBIs in his career. ”You don’t even know what it’s going to look like once you step in there. I was thinking swing the bat and be competitive up there. You just never know what’s going to happen because you don’t do it very often.”
Scherzer and Porcello were teammates for five seasons with the Detroit Tigers and are still close. Because of that, Scherzer wasn’t surprised by Porcello’s hitting stroke.
”I know he can hit,” Scherzer said. ”Give him a couple sliders to keep him off balance and then was trying to get a fastball up and away and it ran back middle-in. Anybody can hit middle-in. He can do that. I’ve seen him do it.”
On the mound, Porcello (10-3) struck out five and limited the damage to solo home runs by Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy. Scherzer (10-5) struck out nine and kept the Red Sox off the board except for Porcello’s bases-clearing double and became the 11th pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts with two different teams.
When Scherzer exited the game after 108 pitches, Mookie Betts provided the Red Sox with their insurance run with a solo shot off Brandon Kintzler in the seventh, his 21st home run of the season. Bryce Harper hit his 21st in the eighth, but Boston’s bullpen held on to hand the Nationals their 16th loss in 24 one-run games.
”Go out there and try to win ballgames and they all feel the same to me,” Harper said as Washington fell to 42-41, seven games back of NL East-leading Atlanta. ”I mean we lose the game, you’re a loser. Win the game [url=http://www.vikingscheapstore.com/mike-hughes-jersey-cheap]Cheap Mike Hughes Jersey[/url] , you’re a winner.”
Craig Kimbrel got into some trouble but picked up four outs for his 25th save in 27 chances.
Harper is doing just fine in center field but on Monday fielded some grounders at first base. It’s just experimental for now but could help the Nationals out down the line.
”I don’t ever know if he’ll ever start a game there, but I believe that if we’re in a pinch and we’ve got to make some kind of decisions in-game, he probably could play there,” manager Davey Martinez said.
PUERTO RICO PRIDE
Martinez and Red Sox manager Alex Cora were never on the same team but knew each other well from their playing days. They exchanged lineup cards as two managers of Puerto Rican descent in the series opener, a special moment and occasion for them and their country.
”It’s good for Puerto Rico,” Martinez said. ”We feel blessed and we’re happy we got the opportunity to do what we do.”
Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (left knee inflammation) received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection, a day after throwing a short bullpen session. Cora said Wright could return before the All-Star break. . 2B Dustin Pedroia (left knee inflammation) will remain in New York all week. . Cora said RHP Tyler Thornburg (shoulder surgery) will most likely be activated from the disabled list during this series.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) took part in a simulated game as he prepares to try to play in a game for the first time since May. … Martinez said C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) will go on a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Harrisburg after reporting significant progress in the simulated game and could be activated as soon as Wednesday.
Boston LHP Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.28 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three career interleague appearances, faces Washington for the first time. RHP Tanner Roark (3-9, 4.10 ERA) pitches for the Nationals in his first career start against the Red Sox.
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