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So many times during the Patriots’ run of success over the past two decades Womens Jaroslav Halak Jersey , the defense was watching as Tom Brady sealed another victory.

In Sunday’s 24-20 AFC championship victory over the Jacksonville , the defense got its chance to secure the Patriots’ record 10th Super Bowl appearance.

Jacksonville entered the game with the best red-zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring touchdowns on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 on 56 drives). The Jaguars scored touchdowns on both of their red-zone trips in the first half, as quarterback Blake Bortles had his way with short and intermediate routes to pile up first downs.

It added up to a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead, and left Gillette Stadium in stunned silence as New England’s hopes of getting a chance to defend its Super Bowl title seemed to be dwindling.

But Jacksonville got conservative over the final 30 minutes, much like the Atlanta Falcons did with 28-3 lead in last year’s Super Bowl collapse against New England. The Patriots seized on it and the Jaguars’ offense never got closer than the Patriots’ 25 in the second half.

”We put ourselves in position to come back and just keep fighting,” defensive end Tray Flowers said. ”We knew they were going to run the ball, but we kept fighting and it was a fourth-quarter game.”

The most telling example came after the Patriots took their final lead of the game on Danny Amendola’s 4-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.

The Jaguars initially went back to their success in the first half , starting the drive with an 8-yard completion from Bortles to Marqise Lee, followed by a 29-yard pass to Dede Westbrook to set Jacksonville up on New England’s 38.

But the Patriots reset, and after an incompletion by Bortles on first down, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and James Harrison got to Bortles for a sack, prying the ball loose. Jaguars tackle Cam Robinson recovered the fumble, but it set up a third-and-19.

New England kept the pressure on Bortles and he could only manage a 4-yard completion to James O’Shaughnessy.

”They had maybe one or two plays that we talk about this time of year,” safety Devin McCourty said. ”Sixteen games, a play or two may have success, but (Patriots defensive coordinator) Matt (Patricia) said it best: It wasn’t a big adjustment that you needed to do; it was just needing to play aggressively.”

With Jacksonville facing fourth-and-15 on its 43, cornerback Stephon Gilmore reached in front of Bortles’ pass to O’Shaughnessy to force a turnover on downs.

It was a special moment for Gilmore Rashaan Evans Color Rush Jersey , who battled injuries and inconsistent play after signing a five-year, $65 million contract in the offseason.

”It wasn’t the biggest play I’ve made, but it was definitely one of the most important,” he said. ”To come from where I came from last year, and be a part of this great team … I love it and that’s why I decided to come here.”

For Bortles, it was his first loss this season when he didn’t commit a turnover. He was previously 8-0.

”We had a two-minute drive at the end of the game to win the AFC championship, so there’s not a whole lot more you can ask for than that,” Bortles said. ”You’ve got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the game.”

And now the Patriots will have a chance at their sixth Super Bowl trophy, which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most ever.

McCourty said the defense is invigorated by the opportunity.

”This team is battle-tested,” McCourty said. ”You go through ups and downs. You go through adversity. … We just keep giving ourselves a chance to win, and the hard work pays off.”



More than three months after the NFL draft, Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst is still a little bitter about how things played out.

Projected to be a sure first-rounder after his final season at Michigan, Hurst wasn't selected until the fifth round amid questions about his health stemming from a heart condition that also got him sent home from the scouting combine.

Although Hurst said he first learned of the issue during his freshman year in college, he was stunned not hearing his name called until the third day of the draft.

He's still not fully over it.

"I don't know if it ever goes away," Hurst said Friday. "It's just something that's always on your shoulder and something that you always have to carry with you. Just keep it there to push you harder."

The Raiders are counting on Hurst and second-round pick P.J. Hall to improve an interior pass rush that was almost non-existent last season. Both rookies have gotten work in with the starting defense during practices and will get an extensive look when preseason games begin next week.

"They don't want us to be rookies," Hurst said. "They want us to come out and play right away and play effectively, and come out and just dominate and do what they expected us to do. Just be a vital part of this defense."

Hurst had 12 陆 sacks in college, five coming as a senior when he was an All-American.

With the Raiders Falcons Game Jerseys , he'll be part of a rotation up front that includes Hall and veterans Justin Ellis and Mario Edwards. Eddie Vanderdoes, a second-round pick in 2017 who started 13 games as a rookie, is recovering from ACL surgery.

To help accelerate his growth, the Raiders have had Hurst play against starting center Rodney Hudson and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson. Hudson and Osemele were Pro Bowl picks last season while Jackson was an alternate in 2016.

"They throw a few crumbs every now and then," Hurst said. "They don't want you to beat them every time. But they've been extremely helpful. Every day I get to go to work I get to play the best guys in the country. That's only going to make you better every day."

Hudson said Hurst's natural instincts have made for a smooth transition.

"He's got a lot of ability," Hudson said. "Smart rusher. He's always attentive and asks questions. He's got a lot of God-given ability. He's quick and he uses his hands well to be so young."

Hurst showed all of that during a pass-rush drill Friday. Paired against two offensive linemen, Hurst burst through the middle of the double-team effort and used his right hand to knock away one defender's block attempt.

If only finding a place to live was that easy for the Raiders rookie.

Hurst admitted getting sticker shock while checking out the housing market in Northern California and joked that he might have to go back to driving for Uber, something he did in college to earn extra money.

"It's ridiculous," Hurst said. "Look here, look home, look Michigan. I'm like, 'I can get a nice place over there.' But over here you get a little box. There was one on Craigslist I saw that someone was renting out a closet for $400."

Notes: Jackson was held out of practice for unknown reasons, one day after leaving the workout early. . Left tackle Donald Penn, who has not practiced in camp yet after having offseason foot surgery, appears close to returning. Penn has been working out with a team trainer and got work in on a blocking sled.

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Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:03 am
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