Tom Brady stayed on the right track for a seventh Tremendous Bowl success as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Drew Brees’ New Orleans Saints 30-20 in a hard-fought play-off sport.
In a battle of two of the NFL’s greatest ever quarterbacks, Brady threw two landing passes and scored one himself, with Brees recording one landing move because the lead swung a technique after which the opposite.
Brady’s two landing passes have been completed off by Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, whereas Tre’quan Smith scored twice for the Saints, as soon as from a Brees move and as soon as from former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston for a 56-yard effort.
The decisive second got here within the fourth quarter when Brady bundled over from shut vary to arrange an NFC Championship sport in opposition to the Inexperienced Bay Packers on 24 January.
The AFC Championship match can be between reigning Tremendous Bowl champions the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and the Buffalo Payments after the Chiefs gained a tense 22-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs needed to survive an enormous scare – and a concussion to quarterback Patrick Mahomes – to see off the Browns.
A remaining goodbye for Brees?
Brady, 43, gained a document six Tremendous Bowls in a 19-year stint with the New England Patriots earlier than leaving on the finish of final season and transferring to the Buccaneers.
He then guided his new crew into the play-offs for the primary time since 2007 and they’re nonetheless on the right track to play on this yr’s Tremendous Bowl, which is able to happen at their house Raymond James Stadium in February.
“The defence was the important thing to the sport,” mentioned Brady. “We bought the turnovers we wanted and it ended being a terrific win for us.
“We’ve labored exhausting to get up to now and now we have to beat a terrific crew [the Packers] and we must do properly to beat them.”
Whereas Brady is now trying ahead to his 14th convention match, this will likely have been the final look within the profession of 42-year-old Brees, who holds the document for many profession passing yards in NFL historical past in addition to essentially the most profession move completions.
Brees was the Most Useful Participant within the 2009 Tremendous Bowl – the Saints’ solely triumph of their historical past – however can be pissed off on the loss in opposition to the Buccaneers after main 6-0, 13-10 and 20-13, as his 4 turnovers proved expensive.
Because the groups walked off the sphere, Brees was noticed waving to the followers, fuelling hypothesis that this may very well be the top of an unbelievable profession that can absolutely see him enter the Corridor of Fame.
Chiefs maintain on after Mahomes suffers concussion
Within the earlier sport on Sunday, the Chiefs needed to play for many of the second half with 35-year-old back-up quarterback Chad Henne, who was that includes for under the fourth time this season and in solely his eleventh look in seven years.
Final season’s champions had led 19-3 at half-time after Mahomes ran in a one-yard landing after which discovered Travis Kelce, who added a 20-yard rating for the hosts.
However touchdowns from the Browns’ Jarvis Landry and Kareem Hunt arrange an exhilarating finale with Henne guiding the Chiefs right into a championship sport with the Buffalo Payments on 24 January.
Mahomes had been in high type early on, however was noticeably combating a toe damage within the second quarter after which within the third he was tackled by the Browns’ Mack Wilson, with Mahomes’ helmet hitting the bottom.
When he tried to get to his ft, his legs have been unsteady and he needed to be helped by his team-mates earlier than he was then dominated out for the remainder of the sport by the concussion protocols.
The Chiefs will now be hoping he’s match sufficient to play within the AFC Championship sport, after they have house benefit in opposition to the Payments, who defeated the Baltimore Ravens 17-3.
From 0-16 to brink of Championship sport
For the Browns, it has been a outstanding turnaround up to now few years as in 2016 they solely gained as soon as all season after which did even worse in 2017 with a document of 0-16.
Their 48-37 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers final week was their first post-season victory since 1 January 1995, they usually have been one rating away from inflicting a shock in opposition to the Chiefs.
The Browns, whose crew included Scottish punter Jamie Gillan, had a terrific probability to attain on the finish of the primary half however Rashard Higgins, when diving for the road, was tackled by the Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen and fumbled the ball, shedding possession.
Nonetheless, Landry’s four-yard landing gave the guests some hope and Mahomes’ enforced absence arrange a possible upset.
Hunt bundled his manner by the center of the Chiefs defence to make it a five-point sport.
In an exhilarating end, Henne, who threw one interception, however accomplished six of eight passes, got here up with two important performs within the final two minutes.
Firstly, when on third and 14 and with no move on, he sprinted and dived to get it to fourth and inches after which fired a brief move for Tyreek Hill to safe the primary down, which sealed the victory.