New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick heaped praises on quarterback Tom Brady for his toughness as he carried the team to a 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game for a spot in Super Bowl LII despite having a thumb injury. After the game, Belichick said Brady did a great job for overcoming the thumb injury that caused panic in New England in the past five days. “Tom did a great job. He’s a tough guy. We all know that. Alright?,” Belichick said. “But we’re not talking about open-heart surgery here.”

Brady suffered a cut in his throwing hand, near the thumb, while handling the ball to running back Rex Burkhead during Wednesday’s practice.

Mike Reiss of ESPN said the cut needed 10 stitches to close. However, Belichick claimed that Brady’s injury did not affect the Patriots strategy against the Jaguars. Despite his thumb injury, Brady showed his MVP form, completing 26-of-38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdown strikes to Danny Amendola in the fourth period as the Patriots reached the Super Bowl for the eighth time in the Belichick-Brady partnership. The Patriots await the winner in the NFC Championship Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings.

Brady talks about injury

Brady was silent about the thumb injury in the past few days, but he addressed it during a post-game interview with reporters. According to Brady, he hasn’t had an injury like this before, but he won’t allow a handoff to end the Patriots’ outstanding season in failure.

Brady thanked the team’s training staff and doctors and his personal trainer Alex Guerrero for getting him ready in this all-important game against the Jaguars. “There was a great team effort. Without that, I definitely wouldn't be playing,” said Brady. In the first three quarters, Brady completed 17-of-24 passes for 152 yards and no touchdown.

However, Brady stepped up in the final period, completing 9-of-14 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola. While he refused to mention how many stitches he received or show his hand to reporters, Brady is confident that the stitches will be removed pretty soon.

Sorry loss for Jaguars

It was a sorry loss for the Jaguars, who led most of the way behind Bortles, who completed 23-of-36 passes for 293 yards and a score.

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette carried the ball 24 times for 76 yards and a touchdown while Allen Hurns caught six passes for 80 yards for the Jaguars, who led by as many as 11 in the second quarter.