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Jaguars beat Patriots 31-20 in AFC championship rematch

Hottest NFL game in 15 years turns out to be one of Bortles' best

Blake Bortles ran six times for 35 yards in addition to throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns.
Blake Bortles ran six times for 35 yards in addition to throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by George Varkanis)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Revenge is a dish best served hot. 

Amid sweltering temperatures at TIAA Bank Field, the Jaguars bested the Patriots on Sunday in an AFC championship rematch. 

Blake Bortles threw four touchdown passes, three in the first half, and the Jaguars beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 31-20.

Bortles connected with Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins for scores in the first 30 minutes, the second time he's done that in his NFL career. Bortles completed 29 of 45 passes for 377 yards, with the four TDs and an interception. It was the best game of his five-year career.

"I try to do whatever I can to make sure we can win, if it’s throwing for 300 yards or getting us in the right run game checks or whatever it might be," Bortles said after the game. "It was definitely good for the most part today.”

The Patriots (1-1) trailed 24-3 in the third quarter before finally showing signs of life. But Dante Fowler, returning from a one-game suspension, stripped Brady for one game-changing play, and second-year receiver Dede Westbrook added another to seal the victory.

Westbrook took a short pass on a crossing route, made one defender miss and then outran another down the sideline for a 61-yard score. He got a key block from Cole.

Cole finished with seven receptions for 117 yards and a score. He made a spectacular, one-handed catch on Jacksonville's second drive and beat Eric Rowe for a 24-yard touchdown three plays later

GALLERY: Images of Jaguars victory
BOXSCORE: Jacksonville 31, New England 20

Jacksonville led 14-0 at that point, but unlike the game eight months ago -- which had much more at stake, of course -- coach Doug Marrone didn't sit on the lead.

The Jaguars (2-0) kept throwing even with an 11-point lead in the final minutes of the game. They now have their best start since 2006.

Marrone was widely criticized for getting conservative in the title game. The Patriots trailed 20-10 in the fourth quarter of that one before rallying to win 24-20 and get to the Super Bowl.

"There were a lot of good signs ... so we felt good about what we were trying to do," Marone said. " When you feel that way, you just have to go out there and execute and we were able to go out there and do it."

Brady never looked comfortable in the rematch. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, both to Chris Hogan. He was sacked twice.

"I mean, they’re a good team -- good defense -- and we’ve got to play a lot better than we played today," Brady said.

NO FOURNETTE

The Jaguars improved to 4-0 in two seasons without running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette sat out while recovering from a sore right hamstring he tweaked in the season opener at the New York Giants.

T.J. Yeldon started in his place and ran 10 times for 58 yards.

GROUND GAINS

Patriots rookie Sony Michel, a first-round draft pick from Georgia, carried 10 times for 33 yards in his NFL debut. Michel is expected to give New England some much-needed help in its running attack.

KEY INJURIES

Jaguars: Left tackle Cam Robinson left in the first quarter after injuring his left knee and was later ruled out. Receiver Donte Moncrief, who caught a touchdown pass on Jacksonville's opening drive, left with a knee injury in the third quarter. Defensive end Calais Campbell, questionable to play because of a sore right knee, left after getting poked in his right eye. He later returned.

Patriots: Defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung, two of the team's top defenders, were ruled out with concussions. Flowers was injured in the first quarter when he collided with teammate Keionta Davis. Chung was injured in the second half.

UP NEXT

Jaguars: Host AFC South rival Tennessee in the second of three straight home games.