Still amazed by Danny Amendola’s performance Sunday in the New England Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win over the Jacksonville Jaguars? You’re not alone.
Amendola took over the game as Tom Brady’s most trusted weapon after tight end Rob Gronkowski exited the contest with a concussion. Amendola caught five passes on seven targets for 56 yards with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter Sunday. He added a 20-yard pass to running back Dion Lewis.
Let’s go through Amendola’s biggest plays.
The Patriots were trailing 20-10 with 10:49 left in the game when they desperately needed a first down to keep chugging down the field.
Amendola ran a deep post down the seam and hauled in a long pass from Brady while draped in coverage by Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson. The throw was low, so it wasn’t an easy grab to make. Amendola used the slide to shield away Gipson from behind. First down.
Amendola then helped get the Patriots down to the 9-yard line when he leaped into the air for a pass from Brady. It was an odd play, because Amendola and wide receiver Brandin Cooks ran identical routes.
As friend of NESN.com Michael Hurley pointed out, it’s not even clear if Brady’s pass was meant for Amendola or Cooks.
It was a pass Amendola snagged out of the air that former Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker couldn’t in Super Bowl XLVI.
To watch the pass, scroll 37 seconds into this clip:
On the very next play, Brady and Amendola cut the Jaguars’ lead to just three points.
Amendola beat Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack on a crossing route then turned upfield quickly to dive into the end zone.
Later in the quarter, Amendola gave the Patriots good field position when he fielded a punt at the 50-yard line and returned it 20 yards to the Jaguars’ 30.
Watch it, followed by a diving 8-yard catch by Amendola, at the 1:24 mark.
Later in the drive, Amendola put the Patriots ahead on a 4-yard go-ahead touchdown catch.
Amendola ran a deep in route then leapt through the air for Brady’s pass, tapping two toes in the back of the end zone as an exclamation point.
Amendola made big play after big play on both of the Patriots’ fourth-quarter scoring drives. The Patriots sealed the win on a defensive stand on the next series after his go-ahead touchdown.
The Jaguars started the drive at their own 25-yard line. They made it down to the Patriots’ 38-yard line after 8- and 29-yard pickups.
Quarterback Blake Bortles threw an incomplete pass to running back Leonard Fournette on first-and-10. He was sacked by Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy on second down for a 7-yard loss.
Bortles picked up 4 yards on a short pass to tight end James O’Shaughnessy on third down, setting up the Jaguars for fourth-and-15 from the Patriots’ 43-yard line. That’s when Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore floated through the air for an incredible pass breakup over Jags wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
That’s all she wrote. The Patriots advanced to Super Bowl LII while the Jaguars went back to Jacksonville.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images