Patriots advance to record-setting ninth Super Bowl

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The New England Patriots progressed to the NFL Super Bowl again after overcoming the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were too good for the Steelers in Sunday's AFC championship game, winning 36-17.

New England will now face the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI - a record-setting ninth Super Bowl appearance for the Patriots.

 

THOROUGH DOMINATION

As the Falcons dominated the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC championship, New England's victory over the Steelers was thorough. 

The Patriots outgained the Steelers 432-368 and Brady was nearly flawless. He threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing. 

 

CRACKED BELL

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went 31 of 47 for 314 yards with a touchdown and interception, but the Steelers offence was missing one of their top weapons. 

Running back Le'Veon Bell left Sunday's game late in the first quarter with a groin injury.

The Steelers said Bell, who was fifth in the NFL this season with 1,268 rushing yards despite missing four games, came back for one carry midway through the second quarter. But after his two-yard gain, he gingerly jogged to the sideline and did not return.

The Steelers were trailing 10-0 at the time of Bell's injury, but DeAngelo Williams stepped in and scored from five yards out to cut into the lead. 

 

TRICKERY WORKS

The Patriots responded to Pittsburgh's first touchdown with a little trickery. After Brady handed off to Dion Lewis, the running back pitched it back to Brady, who then completed the flea-flicker with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan.

Hogan set a Patriots postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine receptions. The flea-flicker catch was one of Hogan's two touchdowns. 

 

UNPRECENTED TERRITORY

Both the Steelers and Patriots have played in eight Super Bowls, but New England will break a tie with the Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos by going to their ninth. Seven of those have come since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000. Brady will be appearing in his seventh Super Bowl and can become the first quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowl titles. 

"It's incredible," Brady told CBS Sports. "I'm just happy for our team. We put a lot into it. I know we'll be playing a great team in a couple of weeks, but it'll be nice to finish it off."