Rob Gronkowski

Challenges not enough to deny Patriots 9th Super Bowl berth

This was supposed to be the year New England's stranglehold on the AFC could be loosened.

Yet after starting the season without their biggest star, the Patriots find themselves in a familiar place: with a chance to earn a Super Bowl title.

A week after showing flecks of vulnerability in its divisional-round win over Houston, New England put together the kind of dominant performance that has come to define the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era, earning a 36-17 AFC championship game win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Now the Pats will face the Atlanta Falcons with a chance to earn their fifth Super Bowl victory.

"Yeah, it was a good day. I mean, we're going to...

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