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Belichick: Danny Amendola such a good football player

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When it mattered most, New England knew who to turn to.

With Rob Gronkowski injured and their season on the brink, the Patriots put Sunday's AFC title game in the hands of Danny Amendola -- and he delivered in full.

The smallish wideout did it all, hauling in seven catches for 84 yards and the game's final two touchdowns to wipe away Jacksonville's lead in a 24-20 win for the Patriots.

Along the way, Amendola became just the second player since 1970 to record a reception, a pass completion, a rush attempt and a punt return in a playoff game. It's a feat that didn't go unnoticed by coach Bill Belichick.

"Danny's such a good football player," Belichick said, per ESPN. "When you look up 'good football player' in the dictionary, his picture is right there beside it."

Sunday's heroics came against a stout Jaguars defense staring down a Patriots attack missing Gronkowski and star wideout Julien Edelman. Tom Brady, meanwhile, played through the game with a nasty row of stitches on his throwing hand.

None of it seemed to matter, with Amendola putting on a show during a dominant fourth quarter for the Patriots. His first touchdown, a 9-yard dart from Brady, served as a turning-point score that cut Jacksonville's lead to 20-17 with just under nine minutes to play.

Amendola's second touchdown -- a 4-yard, toe-tapping thing of beauty in the back of the end zone -- secured the game for New England, now venturing on to an unbelievable eighth Super Bowl appearance under Belichick and Brady.

With 18 catches over two playoff games, he deserves a better nickname than "Danny Playoff Amendola," a clunky moniker crafted by Gronkowski. The Patriots arguably wouldn't have beaten the Falcons in the Super Bowl without Amendola's heroics -- or taken care of business on Sunday.

Quite a resume for an ever-reliable player the Patriots have asked to take a pay cut three years running.

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