- Associated Press - Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Latest on the NFL conference championships. (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles will be underdogs one last time.

Foles threw for three touchdowns and the Eagles made big play after big play, winning the NFC title in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings.

Next up: the Eagles’ first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England. The Patriots are already being favored by 5 to 6 points by odds makers.

Foles was on fire, throwing for 352 yards in a performance that might make the Philadelphia faithful miss injured Carson Wentz a whole lot less.

Patrick Robinson ‘s spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia (15-3) started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league’s stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium.

- Barry Wilner reporting from Philadelphia.


9:15 p.m.

Bradley Cooper found plenty of silver linings in the Eagles’ playbook.

Cooper, a real-life Eagles fan who also played one in the hit film “Silver Linings Playbook,” was dressed in Eagles green and sat among the scores of famous fans who went wild when Nick Foles threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 5-yard score to Alshon Jeffrey that made it 38-7 over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Cooper and former Philadelphia 76ers great Charles Barkley were spotted cheering for the Eagles as the game turned into a rout.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


8:45 p.m.

Billboards went up around Philly for the holidays that read, “Philly believes in you, St. Nick .”

Who doesn’t trust in Nick Foles now?

Foles and the Eagles stayed aggressive to open the third quarter and take a 31-7 lead against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

Foles threw a 41-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith off a flea-flicker , his second 40-plus touchdown of the game. Foles was knocked for not being nearly as creative or elusive as Carson Wentz was in running an offense. But Foles has dominated the NFL’s top-ranked defense overall and has the Eagles thinking of playing in their first Super Bowl since they lost to, yup, this year’s AFC champions the New England Patriots in 2005.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


8:15 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles are halfway to the Super Bowl.

Nick Foles stood in the pocket, had plenty of time to look for a receiver because of great protection and unloaded a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery and Jake Elliott kicked a 38-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 24-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings at halftime of the NFC championship game.

The Eagles had rushing, receiving and a defensive touchdown that sent Eagles fans into a frenzy.

Former Flyers great Eric Lindros , ex-Phillies slugger and World Series champion Ryan Howard , and diehard Eagles fan and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout were among the star athletes at the game rooting on the Eagles.

Disgraced comedian and Philadelphia native Bill Cosby even returned home to cheer for the Eagles.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


7:30 p.m.

LeGarrette Blount powered his way up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter of the NFC championship game.

Blount could face a familiar team should he lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He won a Super Bowl last season with New England and led the Patriots with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday to win the AFC title

Blount knocked over safety Andrew Sendejo for his 10th career postseason TD. His 10 postseason touchdowns are the most for any player since 2013 and four more than any other player.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


7:10 p.m.

Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson electrified the home crowd and tied the NFC championship game with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Case Kennum was pressured by Chris Long and appeared to get his hand smacked on the throw. Robinson crisscrossed the field and directed traffic, pointing toward his blockers to guide him all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Long and Robinson signed low-money free-agent deals in the offseason and paid big dividends in the title game. Long shared a pregame embrace with his father, Hall-of-Famer Howie Long .

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


6:54 p.m

The Minnesota Vikings made it look easy on the opening drive of the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Case Keenum threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Kyle Rudolph for the 7-0 lead . Eagles linebacker Naje Goode was late to react and left Rudolph all alone in the end zone.

The Vikings moved 75 yards on nine plays and silenced what had been a crazed Eagles crowd. The Vikings may have more than the Super Bowl on their minds. Rudolph and two of his teammates mimicked the act of the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration.

- Dan Gelston reporting from Philadelphia.


6:47 p.m.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.

Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship.

The Patriots will play the winner of the NFC championship between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to secure an eighth Super Bowl appearance for he and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady has won five Super Bowls, including last year’s 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.


6:10 p.m.

A fight broke out in a parking lot near the Philadelphia Eagles’ home stadium as police tried to disperse tailgating fans hours before the NFC Championship game.

NJ.com reports a bloodied fan was taken into custody amid the chaos Sunday afternoon near Lincoln Financial Field .

It was not immediately clear what started the fight.

Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers tried to get the situation under control.


5:25 p.m.

The Patriots say Rob Gronkowski will not return to the game.

Gronkowski went to the locker room after he was blind-sided by Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pass route. Church was called for unnecessary roughness on the play, and Gronkowski seemed woozy on his feet.

The team said he had a head injury and announced early in the fourth quarter that he would not return.

Gronkowski has only played 16 games in a season once in his career. He had season-ending back surgery last year and missed the final eight games of the regular-season and all of the Patriots‘ run to their fifth Super Bowl title.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


4:45 p.m.

The Patriots say tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable to return to the AFC championship because of a head injury.

Gronk was left wobbly on a hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church on a downfield pattern late in the first half. Gronkowski headed to the locker room and sat out the remainder of the first half.

He did not appear to be on the New England sideline when the second half began.

Earlier in the second quarter, Gronkowski caught a 21-yard pass that moved him past Dallas Clark for first on the NFL’s all-time list for postseason receiving yards by a tight end, 848.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


4:28 p.m.

Jacksonville has taken a 14-10 lead at halftime of the AFC championship.

The Jaguars were up 14-3 after an early touchdown pass from Blake Bortles to Marcedes Lewis and a run by Leonard Fournette.

Just before the half, Tom Brady led the Patriots on a six-play, 85-yard drive that included two Jacksonville penalties. The drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White .

Bortles completed 13 of 15 passes for 155 yards in the half. Brady was 12 of 17 for 124 yards.

The last three times the Patriots have trailed by double digits in a playoff game, they came back to win.

- Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts


4:25 p.m.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is being looked at after a hard hit from Barry Church left him wobbly.

Gronkowski was running downfield on a passing route, looking back for the ball, when Church put a shoulder into him late in the second quarter. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end seemed shaken, and he left the field. He did not return for the remainder of the drive, which was New England’s last in the first half.

There was no immediate announcement from the team about his condition.

Church was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots the ball at their own 40. A pass interference penalty on the next play put New England on the 13. Two plays later, James White ran it in to make it 14-10.

Jacksonville was also called for a delay of game that negated a first-down completion on their previous possession. In all, the Jaguars the Jaguars had five penalties for 62 yards in the first half; the Patriots had one for 10 yards.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


3:20 p.m.

Tom Brady’s injured right hand looked fine on the Patriots‘ opening drive in the AFC title game.

Brady was 6-for-6 for 57 yards on New England’s first possession against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed a 20-yarder to Danny Amendola on a fourth-and-1 to keep the drive going. But the Patriots settled for Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Brady reportedly injured his right hand and needed stitches when it was hit by a teammate’s helmet in practice. The five-time Super Bowl champion took the field on Sunday with a piece of black tape on the back of his hand.

The Patriots are in the conference championship game for the seventh straight year. They are hoping to go to their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady era.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


2:45 p.m.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft says the team needs to guard against “jealousy and envy” from people who are trying to tear apart one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history.

Speaking on the pregame show before the Patriots played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game, Kraft said it’s only natural there would be some tension between him and coach Bill Belichick after 18 years together. Kraft says, “But when you’ve got something good going, everyone’s got to get their egos checked in and try to hold it together.”

ESPN reported this month that Kraft essentially vetoed Belichick’s plan to set backup Jimmy Garoppolo up as the successor to five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Instead, the Patriots traded Garoppolo to San Francisco for a second-round draft pick.

- Jimmy Golen reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


2:35 p.m.

The Super Bowl matchup will be set after conference title games featuring three teams that have never won the big game.

The other participant is a five-time Super Bowl winner, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots and Tom Brady, nursing an injured right hand, start conference championship Sunday playing host to the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.

The night game with Minnesota playing at Philadelphia features two 29-year-old quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Case Keenum, both of whom started the season as backups.

Keenum played most of the season after Sam Bradford was injured, and Foles came in after star Carson Wentz was hurt in Week 14.


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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