FOXBORO — When the playoffs start, and the lights go on, the best players are able to dial it up a notch. And then some.
The Patriots have quite a few players who are big-game performers. Obviously, Tom Brady is the leader in that department, but he has quite a few teammates who are able to do the same, especially on offense.
We saw it during last season’s improbable Super Bowl comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. And, we saw it again last night during the 35-14 divisional round romp over the Tennessee Titans as Brady’s chief play-makers rose to the occasion.
It should serve as a warning to the remaining teams just how dangerous the offense can be, now that Brady has most of his weapons back, with the exception of Rex Burkhead.
It’s not just a two-man band with Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis. Brady has more in his arsenal, and they’ll be just as dangerous next week in the AFC Championship Game.
Remember how important Danny Amendola was during last year’s postseason? Remember all the big plays the wide receiver made against the Falcons? All Mr. Clutch did last night was catch 11 passes for 112 yards to lead the team.
As it is, he’s been doing his part to help fill the shoes of Julian Edelman, and this was his best game of the season.
The 11 receptions represented the most he’s had while a Patriot. Five of those catches came on third down, and all five moved the chains. Talk about dialing it up a notch.
“He’s just Danny ‘Playoff’ Amendola,” said Gronkowski. “Every time the playoffs come, big games, he’s always there. Always stepping up his game.”
Brady also took note of Amendola’s efforts.
“I thought he played incredible. He made a lot of great catches,” said Brady. “Those third downs were huge (last night).”
The best came on a third-down play in the fourth quarter with Brady scrambling for his life. The Pats were on the Tennessee 28 facing third-and-10; Brady ran to his right, threw to the other side of the field and somehow found Amendola.
“We locked eyes early and then I could tell he was thinking about it,” Amendola said of the connection, which set up the Pats’ final touchdown. “I kept running. I knew I had a couple yards and he looked back again and let it go.”
Then there was Super Bowl hero James White. Or, James “Playoff” White.
The running back returned after missing the final regular-season game with an ankle injury. He scored the first two touchdowns. He caught a 5-yard flip from Brady for…