Reigning NFL Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots were a class above as they saw off the Tennessee Titans 35-14 in the divisional round.
Saturday's AFC playoff game at Gillette Stadium saw the Patriots advance to the championship game for a record seventh successive year.
After the Titans grabbed an early 7-0 lead, Tom Brady and the Patriots took control and cruised to victory on home soil.
The Titans (10-8) scored late in the first quarter and had 108 yards of offense.
They managed just 159 yards the rest of the way as the Patriots defense kept the Tennessee ground game that wore down the Kansas City Chiefs last week in check.
Titans running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 156 yards against the Chiefs, managed just 28 yards on 12 carries against the Patriots.
The Patriots (14-3) will host either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game next Sunday.
QUESTIONABLE PENALTIES FAVOURED PATRIOTS
There were two questionable calls in the first half that went in New England's favour. The first was an offensive pass interference call on Titans receiver Eric Decker that wiped out a Tennessee first down. The Titans had to punt from their own 17-yard line and the Patriots capitalised on the short field to take a 14-7 lead on a six-yard James White run.
The second came on a Patriots punt when it appeared New England would be called for a false start. The Titans were instead penalised for inducing a false start and the five-yard penalty gave the Patriots a first down to extend the series. The Patriots capitalised and turned what would have been a three-and-out inside their own 20 into a 16-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan.
The Patriots led the NFL this season in first downs by penalties. While there is no conspiracy in place, those two calls were crucial and were the turning point of the game.
MARIOTA SHOWED PROMISE
The Titans scored first as Marcus Mariota threw a perfect pass to Corey Davis, who made an incredible one-handed diving catch in the end zone to give the Titans a 7-0 lead with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.
The touchdown capped an 11-play, 95-yard drive as Mariota used his arms and legs to convert a pair of third downs. It was all New England after that as Patriots defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia dialled up the pressure on Mariota, who was sacked eight times. Mariota finished 22 of 37 for 254 yards and two touchdowns with 37 rushing yards. While the Titans could not pull off the upset — it did not help that starting right tackle Jack Conklin was forced out with a knee injury in the first half — Mariota showed promise and could have Tennessee as a perennial playoff contender.
LEWIS IS THIS YEAR'S X-FACTOR
Patriots running back James White, who scored twice on Saturday, was New England's playoff hero last season. This year, it looks like Dion Lewis will be that guy. Lewis ran for 896 yards and six touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 214 yards and three scores during the regular season. He came up with multiple big plays, finishing with 62 rushing yards on 15 carries and nine receptions for 79 yards. He caught a short Brady pass on the first play of the second quarter and bolted for what was initially ruled a 50-yard touchdown. The Patriots had to settle for a 31-yard gain, but it set up White's first touchdown as the Patriots answered Tennessee's score.
Brady finished 35 of 53 for 337 yards and three touchdowns as Danny Amendola led all players with 11 catches for 112 yards.
The Patriots are now 8-0 this season when Lewis records more than 100 yards from scrimmage. As long as Patriots offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels continues to give Lewis touches, New England just might win another Super Bowl.
|With Neymar back, Brazil are World Cup favourites – Lugano|
|Alba: I don´t understand the criticism of Messi|
|He has sacrificed a lot – Stuani praises Suarez|
|Manning says Brees deserves to break his record for career passing yards|
|Hornets want Walker to play entire career with Charlotte|
|Avalanche sign Grubauer to three-year extension|
|Argentina struggles down to team, not just Messi – Hierro|
|Casey leads Travelers by four after firing 62|
|Scotland run riot in Argentina as Hourcade tenure ends in defeat|
|Germany´s Rudy in doubt for South Korea clash|
|England produce storming fightback to beat New Zealand|
|Shaqiri, Xhaka facing disciplinary action over goal celebration|
|Kvitova takes WTA lead for wins by easing into Birmingham final|
|Jones: England back on road to being world´s best|
|Germany survive in Sochi but questions remain|
|Germany 2 Sweden 1: Late Kroos winner brings Low´s men back from the brink|
|Perisic dreaming of matching Croatia´s France 98 heroes|
|Veron questions Sampaoli for leaving Icardi out|
|Southgate won´t blame injured Alli for playing through pain barrier|
|Travelers Championship: Course invader drives Rory McIlroy and crowd nuts|
|Saul tells Atletico to renew Oblak deal after Griezmann´s new contract|
|Course invader sends McIlroy & crowd nuts at Travelers Championship|
|Saudi Arabia v Egypt: El Hadary eyes history in dead rubber|
|Referee declines Cheika invite after Australia´s series loss to Ireland|
|Griezmann, Mbappe can eclipse Henry, claims Trezeguet|
|Nawalka hopeful of Glik return against Colombia|
|Mexico outsmart South Korea to join Croatia as unheralded World Cup threats|
|´No drama´ for Southgate after England team sheet leak|
|Hend caught by five in Pulheim as Bjerregaard goes low|
|´Little Pea´ Hernandez hits big Mexico milestone in World Cup win|
|Modric and Rakitic the best midfield in Russia - Corluka|
|Cipriani and Farrell ease pressure on Jones as England avoid SA whitewash|
|South Korea 1 Mexico 2: Hernandez nets landmark goal as last 16 beckons|
|Ozil and Khedira axed by Germany|
|Djokovic plans to use two rackets against Cilic after reaching Queen´s final|
|World Cup of penalties? Russia surpasses Brazil after VAR introduction|
|Neymar ´fully recovered´ but Brazil coach Tite has thigh injury|
|Hansen claims France ´clutching at straws´ after another referee controversy|
|Douglas Costa, Danilo out of Brazil´s Serbia clash|
|Hamilton claims 75th pole as Mercedes dominate in France|
|´Mentally strong´ Salah will overcome World Cup disappointment, says Mane|
|Pekerman contemplating unleashing James and Quintero together|
|Schmidt hopes Australia furnace will produce Ireland diamonds|
|I´m missing practice, but it´s OK - Federer ready for Coric|
|Spain v Morocco: Alba makes case for the defence|
|Team-man Lukaku firmly in the race for individual prize|
|Belgium 5 Tunisia 2: Lukaku and Hazard shine as Red Devils run riot|
|Leaked England team gives Panama no advantage, insists Gomez|
|Mane and Senegal holding no fear for Japan|
|Murray to meet Wawrinka at Eastbourne|
|Nigeria goalkeeper Ikeme in remission after year-long cancer battle|
|Lukaku breaks Belgium record against Tunisia|
|Iran v Portugal: Team Melli bullish over qualification chances|
|Mauresmo to be France´s first female Davis Cup captain|
|Maradona angry at Argentina World Cup performances|
|Ireland cap stunning season with series win over Wallabies|
|Uruguay v Russia: Selection posers for already-qualified pair|
|Federer scraps his way to yet another Halle final|
|Lunin rejected ´3,000 offers´ to join Real Madrid|
|On your bike! Iceland physio sent home after cycling accident|
|Not just Real Madrid interested in Fekir, says Aulas|
|France frustrated by officials again as All Blacks complete sweep in style|
|Jose Enrique reveals brain tumour surgery|
|The referee was a disaster, fumes Matic|
|Lakmal to captain Sri Lanka in Chandimal´s absence|
|Alli back in England training|
|McIlroy, Watson plotting moves as Harman leads Travelers Championship|
|Tearful Neymar is a joyful boy, says Jesus|
|Ruiz: Coutinho has the same quality as Neymar|
|Kovacic announces intention to leave Real Madrid|