FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady waited out the final tense minutes on the sideline and somehow his fourth-quarter leap into the end zone held up, sending the New England Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
With New England leading by 3 points with 11 seconds left, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal attempt and the Patriots escaped with a 23-20 win Sunday in the AFC championship game.
On his 1-yard scoring dive with 11:29 left, Brady took a huge hit from Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis, then emphatically spiked the ball as he walked away. Earlier, Brady showed his fire by barking at Lewis following a hard tackle on a 4-yard run.
Next up as the Patriots chase their fourth Super Bowl trophy in Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England is the winner of Sunday’s NFC championship game between the Giants and 49ers. The Super Bowl is Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
In their last trip to the big game, the Patriots had an 18-0 record when they were stunned by the Giants four years ago. They won the NFL championship for the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons. This time, they had to the Super Bowl with a 10-game winning streak.
Brady’s fifth trip to the Super Bowl will equal John Elway’s achievement with Denver.
"We’re going to try to go out and kick some butt in a couple of weeks," Brady said.
Before Cundiff missed, the Ravens had a chance to go ahead two plays earlier, but wide receiver Lee Evans was stripped of the ball in the end zone by backup cornerback Sterling Moore, who earlier was victimized for a touchdown that gave Baltimore the lead 17-16.
Then Cundiff misfired, and the Patriots stormed off their sideline in celebration as the chilled crowd roared.