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Unheralded players help Pats to AFC title game

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HOWARD ULMAN | January 17, 2014 03:30 PM EST | AP


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — On paper, the New England Patriots team doesn't measure up to others coach Bill Belichick has taken to AFC championship games.

But on the field, unheralded players replacing missing stars have played major roles in bringing the Patriots one win away from their second Super Bowl in three years.

Belichick says it doesn't matter how a player gets to the team. He says it's more important how that player performs than whether he was drafted, signed as a free agent or obtained in a trade.

Numerous injuries have forced the Patriots (13-4) to replace key starters, including Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. On Sunday, the Patriots (13-4) face the Denver Broncos (14-3) with the winner going to the Super Bowl.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org