FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matthew Slater dressed slowly at his locker after Saturday night’s game. He’s usually the last player to leave the New England Patriots locker room, win or lose, and this was no exception.

The Patriots had just overwhelmed the Tennessee Titans, 35-14, to advance to the AFC championship game for the seventh consecutive year. They’ll play the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars at 3 p.m. Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

If the Patriots win – they opened as 8.5-point favorites, according to Las Vegas bookmakers – they will play in the Super Bowl for the eighth time in 17 years.

Slater, an All-Pro player on special teams, was asked what it means to advance to the conference title game again.

“Lot of pride,” he said. Then he asked, “What’s the record?”

This, he was told, is the NFL record. No other team has played in more than five consecutive conference championship games.

“How about that?” Slater said. “That’s really hard to fathom. You try not to think of it moment to moment, but it is pretty cool to step back and think, ‘We’ve done something that’s never been done here.’ It’s not the end goal for us, but we’re definitely fortunate to be in the position we’re in.”

That is the essence of the Patriots, a dynasty like no other, kept humble by a head coach, Bill Belichick, who never boasts about team or individual accomplishments.

This benchmark, this streak of championship success, has reached almost supernatural proportions. And, given the state of the NFL, where the salary cap prevents teams from loading up on talent, it’s unlikely it will ever be matched.

What New England has done, during an era in which rosters turn over continuously, is amazing. Winning, apparently, is the Patriot Way.

The Patriots, of course, are led by their leadership trinity of owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, all bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their relationship has been the subject of much speculation in the past couple of weeks, since an ESPN article described a strained relationship that threatens to hasten the demise of their dynasty.

But Saturday night’s victory illustrated perfectly why the Patriots have been able to maintain their championship pedigree. Yes, the superstars, Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, had big games. But it was the cast of many that pushed New England over the top.

Dion Lewis, cast off by three teams, had 141 total yards of offense. James White, a fourth-round draft pick, scored two touchdowns. Danny Amendola, signed as a free agent five years ago, caught 11 passes for 112 yards. Deatrich Wise Jr., a fourth-round draft pick, had two of New England’s eight sacks.

As great as Brady and Belichick are, the Patriots continue to win over the years because they bring in players who fill roles, who have something to prove.

So while rookies like Wise, or first-time Patriots like Marquis Flowers and Eric Lee, were absolutely thrilled at the prospect of playing in an AFC championship game, veterans such as Slater and offensive tackle Nate Solder and safety Devin McCourty know there’s more work to be done.

“I think the thing is, the seven straight (AFC title games) is cool, but not all these guys were part of that,” said McCourty. “You know, that’s not an emphasis for the team. It’s all about getting there this year for all the work we’ve put in from April on. That’s why we’re working, to get to these big games. So I think it’s great for the team to see our hard work paying off.

“We’ve just got to keep at it. Obviously, getting there is a great accomplishment, but we want to go out there next week and play our best game.”

While it’s no surprise that the Patriots are back in the AFC championship game, their opponent next weekend is. The Jags traveled to Pittsburgh and upset the Steelers, 45-42, on Sunday.

Jacksonville won only three games a year ago, but now takes a 12-6 record into the AFC title game. The Jaguars are led by a defense that was ranked second in the NFL and by an offense spurred by the league’s best rushing game.

The Patriots and Jags didn’t meet in the regular season – the last time was in 2015, a 51-17 New England win at home – but they did meet in the preseason this year, with Jacksonville defeating the Patriots, 31-24, in Foxborough. They actually held joint practices in the days leading up to that game.

There is playoff history between the clubs, who met in the 1996 season AFC championship game with New England winning 20-6. In 2007, the teams met in the divisional round, also at Foxborough, with New England winning 31-20.

There is also this: Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations is Tom Coughlin, the former New York Giants coach who twice put together game plans to defeat New England in the Super Bowl.

So the Patriots, as always, will prepare for their greatest test, seeking the slightest flaw in the Jaguars defense to attack, the weak link in the Jacksonville offense. They won’t think about what they’ve accomplished so far this season. They’re too busy thinking about what they must do next.

“We don’t really get too much into what we’ve done. We try to stay in the moment, stay week to week,” Slater said. “But hopefully, maybe one day we’ll be able to step back, step away from things, look upon what we did and be proud of our efforts.”