Challenges not enough to deny Patriots 9th Super Bowl berth (The Associated Press)

This was supposed to be the year New England’s stranglehold on the AFC could be loosened. A week after showing flecks of vulnerability in its divisional-round win over Houston, New England put together the kind of dominant performance that has come to define the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era, earning a 36-17 AFC championship game win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. Now the Pats will face the Atlanta Falcons with a chance to earn their fifth Super Bowl victory.