Patriots Back in Conference Title Game…Falcons Hammer Seahawks
(AP) — The New England Patriots are heading to the AFC championship game for the sixth straight year, while the Atlanta Falcons will make their first appearance in the NFC title game since 2012.
Dion Lewis used three different ways to score touchdowns as the Patriots ousted the Houston Texans, 34-16. Lewis grabbed a 13-yard touchdown pass, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score later in the first quarter and ran for a one-yard TD.
Tom Brady finished 18 of 38 for 287 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Brady hit Julian Edelman eight times for 137 yards to help the Pats become the first team to reach six straight conference title games.
The Patriots defense picked off Brock Osweiler three times and held him to 198 passing yards.
New England will host the winner of Sunday's game between the Chiefs and Steelers.
The Falcons are in the NFC championship game after Matt Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-20 win over Seattle. He hooked up with Julio Jones on a 7-yard touchdown and Tevin Coleman for a 14-yard score before his 3-yard toss to Mohamed Sanu put the game out of reach with just under 4 minutes remaining.
The Seahawks did little against Atlanta's defense after Russell Wilson engineered a touchdown drive on Seattle's opening possession. Wilson threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, including a 31-yard scoring strike to Doug Baldwin with 3:21 left after the Falcons built a 36-13 lead 19 seconds earlier. Wilson also was picked off twice.
Atlanta will either host Green Bay or visit the Cowboys in Dallas next weekend.