Brady's bunch out to knock down Falcons' crest
Two high-powered offences with star quarterbacks set up Super Bowl date
Tom Brady led the New England Patriots into the seventh Super Bowl of his career yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a clinical 36-17 defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers, after the Atlanta Falcons routed the Green Bay Packers to reach the NFL showpiece.
Brady, 39, will now be chasing a record-equalling fifth Super Bowl crown in Houston on Feb 5 after throwing three touchdowns for 384 yards in a convincing defeat of the Steelers at Foxborough's Gillette Stadium.
Brady's latest Super Bowl appearance comes 15 years after he led the Patriots to victory over the St Louis Rams in the 2002 championship game.
"It's incredible. The team showed a lot of mental toughness over the course of the year," said Brady.
"I'm just happy for the team.
"I know we're playing a great team in a couple of weeks, but it'd be great to finish it off."
The Patriots scored the first 19 points of the second half to turn a tight contest into a romp and set up a Super Bowl clash against the high-scoring Falcons.
The American Football Conference (AFC) Championship triumph propelled the Patriots to a record ninth trip to the Super Bowl, while Atlanta walloped the Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship game earlier to earn a shot at their first league title in the super showdown.
Victory was extra sweet for the Patriots and Brady, who was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season for his role in the controversial under-inflation of balls in the AFC title game two years ago that came to be known as Deflategate.
New England began the campaign 3-1 before Brady rejoined them and took them to a 14-2 regular season record and a winning streak that has now reached nine games.
Brady, who completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns, avoided saying he felt extra motivation after accepting a suspension he did not feel he deserved.
"This is my motivation right here, all these fellows right here in front of me. That's why we're here," Brady said, as he gestured toward his teammates.
"We'll see if we can write the perfect ending in a couple of weeks. It's going to take a big effort. We're playing a great team, but it's going to be a hell of a game."
The Steelers, who were also vying to become the first team to make a ninth Super Bowl appearance, stopped the Patriots' running attack, but had a hard time containing Brady and his stable of receivers, most notably Chris Hogan.
Playing in his 11th conference title game, Brady spread the field with his receivers and time and again found Hogan.
The usually taciturn Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was enthused to be going to his seventh Super Bowl in partnership with Brady.
"Great players. It's all about the players," Belichick said.
"They work hard, they're unselfish and they're tough.
"The players played hard, they played smart. We took care of the ball, played good defence and to hold that team to nine points for 50 minutes is pretty good." - Reuters