Foxboro, Jan. 12, 1997 – The Patriots' defense continued its great performance during the 1996 playoffs during their 20-6 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. A sold out crowd of 60, 188 filled Foxboro Stadium in sub-freezing conditions to watch the Patriots return to the Super Bowl for the first time in 11 years.
The Patriots were able to shut down Jacksonville running back Natrone Means and contain quarterback Mark Brunell. Means was held to 43 yards on 19 carries and Brunell passed for only 190 yards and threw two interceptions. His first interception came with 3:43 left in the game, when he tried to his Derek Brown going overt the middle of the end zone, but safety Willie Clay picked the pall off in the end zone.
The Patriots turned the ball over on downs and the Jaguars had one last chance taking over at their 42 with 2:36 left. On first down linebacker Chris Slade rushed in and knocked the ball from running back James Stewart. Cornerback Otis Smith grabbed the loose ball out of the air and ran 47 yards for the touchdown.