FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Jones family dinner table was a competitive place with three athletic sons.
“If it was the last piece of chicken, or whatever, we were wrestling for it,” said eldest brother Arthur.
The reward will be much greater — a trip to the Super Bowl — when he and Chandler play on opposing teams in the AFC championship game on Sunday night.
Arthur is a defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts. Chandler is a defensive end for the New England Patriots. This will be the fourth time the brothers face each other since Chandler, a first-round draft choice in 2012, joined his brother in the NFL.
Their parents plan to attend. And 27-year-old brother Jon, a mixed-martial arts light heavyweight champion, also may be there.
“My mom and dad are pretty excited,” 24-year-old Chandler said. “They get to go to the (Super Bowl) no matter what.”
The brothers already have met in an AFC title game.
Arthur played for Baltimore and Chandler was a rookie for the Patriots on Jan. 20, 2013, when the Ravens made another trip to Foxborough and won 28-13. Two weeks later, the Ravens were NFL champions, beating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 with Arthur contributing a sack and a fumble recovery.
Now Chandler gets another chance.
An outstanding pass rusher, he’ll try to tackle quarterback Andrew Luck, who, at 240 pounds, can be tough to bring down.
“I really don’t see Andrew Luck as a young quarterback at all,” Chandler said. “I know this is his third year. We actually both got drafted the same year. But this guy, he plays like a veteran.”
The 28-year-old Arthur won the first two times he faced his brother, a 31-30 Ravens win on Sept. 23, 2012, Chandler’s third game in the NFL after being drafted in the first round out of Syracuse, where Arthur also played. Then came the Ravens playoff win before the Patriots won in Baltimore 41-7 on Dec. 22, 2013.
Arthur signed with the Colts as a free agent before this season. But the brothers were sidelined when the Patriots beat the Colts 42-20 on Nov. 16 in Indianapolis. Arthur had an ankle injury and Chandler was out with a hip injury.
Now both are back, with Arthur playing in the Colts last eight games and Chandler in the Patriots last four.
Arthur’s return has “made a huge impact,” Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said. “Right now he’s feeling really good and he’s very disruptive. He does a great job along with those other guys of forcing double-teams. He commands a double-team.”
He had two tackles and a half-sack in a 26-10 wild-card win over Cincinnati and three tackles in a 24-13 divisional win at Denver. He’s made a big difference in the run defense after the Colts allowed Jonas Gray to run for 201 yards and four touchdowns in this season’s loss to the Patriots.
Chandler made 21 tackles with 1½ sacks in his four games since returning. He finished with six sacks after getting six as a rookie and 11½ last season.
But he was part of a defense that allowed four touchdowns in New England’s 35-31 divisional win over Baltimore last Saturday.
“You try not to harp on what happened last week, but (focus on) the week we have now, which is against the Colts,” Chandler said.
He and his brother won’t be on the field at the same time Sunday night.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty knows the feeling, having faced his brother, Tennessee cornerback Jason McCourty, once as a pro. The Patriots won 34-13 in the 2012 season opener.
Devin reminds him of that game “every chance I get.”
Playing against a brother is “a pretty awesome feeling,” he said. “You kind of sit back and look at another person you grew up with, you went through a lot of similar things and then both be playing at a high level and playing in the NFL is great.”
For the Jones brothers “it’s even more,” he said, “playing in a championship game with the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.”
A few sacks by Chandler might help the Patriots get there, even if he must put up with Luck’s tendency to praise the tackler.
“Hopefully, he’ll be doing some patting me on the back on Sunday,” said Chandler, with a smile.
And when the game’s over, he and Arthur can finally get on the field together to exchange some brotherly love taps.
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story.