No surprise: Danny Amendola makes big plays for New England Patriots

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 21, 2018 at 8:58 PM
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Danny Amendola did a little bit of everything for the New England Patriots on Sunday.

That is hardly breaking news.

"When you look up good football player in the dictionary, his picture's right there beside it," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after Amendola was again a key playoff cog as New England advanced to the Super Bowl with a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Doesn't matter what it is, fielding punts, third down, big play, red area, onside kick recovery, whatever we need him to do, he's just a tremendous player," Belichick said. "Very instinctive, tough, great guy, great concentration and made some big plays for us tonight."

After being called Danny "Playoff" Amendola following the Patriots' divisional round win over the Tennessee Titans, Amendola caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Tom Brady to produce the scores that kept New England's bid for a sixth Super Bowl title alive.

But there was more than that -- a lot more.

He had seven catches (on nine targets) for 84 yards in the game. He also completed a 20-yard pass on a flea-flicker (a play that ended in a Dion Lewis fumble) and a 20-yard punt return that set up the winning score.

"He's made so many big plays for us and this was huge," Brady said of the winning catch that saw Amendola keep both feet in the back of the end zone. "Without that, we don't win, so it was an incredible play."

Safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty knows Amendola is "tough to cover," from their time in practice and said, "He shows up when we need him."

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The Jaguars came up a few minutes short, but they enter the offseason knowing they went from 3-13 in 2016 to within a few plays of going to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

That should be something the Jaguars take into the offseason and then on to 2018.

Asked if the Jaguars can use this game as motivation for next year, head coach Doug Marrone said, "I do not know. The players may say that now. I am kind of old school when it kind of comes down to I never look a season before or anything of that nature. I always think you have to start from scratch. You have to start from the bottom. Start building the foundation.

"Every year is a new year. People come in, people go. You just have to start bringing the team together and start training. That is how I view that step, which is down the road."

As far as coming up short, Marrone said, "I think it is hard when you come in right from the field and you come in here. I think if you think about it and the more I think about it the more it will hurt. The more it will weigh on my mind about what we could have done better.

"Everyone in that locker room is thinking what could we have done a better job of, including me. So it is tough.

"Outside of, God forbid, someone passing away that you feel close to, this is probably as close of pain that you will have. This is the pain you deal with when you lose football games. We have to deal with it and it hurts. It stays with you for a long time."

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