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Game Notes: Patriots vs. Broncos

Posted Jan 14, 2012

The following are game notes from the New England Patriots Divisional Playoff game vs. the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, January 14, 2012.

PATRIOTS ADVANCE TO EIGHTH AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
With the win over Denver, New England has advanced to its eighth AFC Championship Game. The Patriots have compiled a 6-1 all-time record in AFC Championship Games, including a 3-0 record at home and a 2-0 record at home at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots' only AFC Championship loss was in the 2006 playoffs at Indianapolis.

PATRIOTS WIN 18th PLAYOFF GAME OF ROBERT KRAFT'S OWNERSHIP
The Patriots won their 18th playoff game since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England's 18 playoff victories over that span are the most in the NFL (Pittsburgh, 17). New England also leads the league in total victories (194), Super Bowl titles (3), conference championships (5), and division championships (11) since Kraft purchased the team.

HEAD OF THE CLASS
Bill Belichick improved his career playoff record to 16-6 (.727). Belichick's 16 career playoff wins tie Chuck Noll for the fourth highest total by any head coach in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers Tom Landry (20), Don Shula (19), and Joe Gibbs (17). Belichick's career playoff winning percentage of .727 ties Oakland's Tom Flores for the second-highest playoff winning percentage among NFL head coaches, trailing only Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900).

PATRIOTS SET TEAM RECORDS FOR POINTS & YARDS IN A PLAYOFF GAME
The Patriots scored 45 points and gained 509 total net yards against the Broncos, with both numbers standing as single-game franchise playoff records.

TOM BRADY WINS 15th CAREER POSTSEASON GAME
Tom Brady won his 15th career postseason game to improve to a 15-5 overall postseason record. His .750 winning percentage in the postseason is the best postseason winning percentage by a starting quarterback (minimum of 15 starts). Brady and Joe Montana are the only NFL players with 15 or more wins. Brady entered the game at 14-5 (.737) and tied with Terry Bradshaw of Pittsburgh. Brady is now 9-2 in home postseason games.

BRADY MOVES UP ON THE POSTSEASON TOUCHDOWN LIST
Tom Brady's six touchdown passes today raised his career playoff total to 36 touchdown passes, moving him into third place on the NFL's all-time playoff touchdown pass list, trailing only Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44).

BRADY SETS TEAM RECORD FOR MOST PASSING YARDS IN A PLAYOFF GAME; MOVES PAST DAN MARINO FOR FIFTH IN CAREER POSTSEASON YARDS
Brady threw for 363 yards against Denver moving past Dan Marino into fifth place on the all-time postseason passing list. Brady's 363 passing yards set a new single-game Patriots playoff record. Brady finished the game with 4,770 total passing yards in his 20 career playoff games.

BRADY TIES NFL RECORD WITH SIX TOUCHDOWN PASSES IN A POSTSEASON GAME
Tom Brady tied an NFL single-game playoff record with six touchdown passes. Daryle Lamonica of Oakland vs. Houston on Dec. 21, 1969 and Steve Young of San Francisco vs. San Diego in the Super Bowl on Jan. 29, 1995 are the other players to have six touchdown passes in a game. Brady has two games in the regular season with six touchdowns, vs. Tennessee on Oct. 18, 2009 and at Miami on Oct. 21, 2007. The Patriots previous postseason mark was three touchdowns. Brady had three postseason games with three touchdowns - Super Bowl XXXVIII vs. Carolina (2-1-04), vs. Jacksonville in a Wild Card Game (1-7-06) and vs. Jacksonville in Divisional Playoff Game (1-12-08). Tony Eason also had three touchdowns for the Patriots in the playoffs at Miami (1-12-86).

BRANCH BECOMES PATRIOTS ALL-TIME PLAYOFF LEADER IN RECEIVING YARDS
Deion Branch had three receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown and moved past Troy Brown (694) for most postseason receiving yards in Patriots history. Branch finished the game with a total of 773 playoff receiving yards in a Patriots uniform. Additionally, Branch's touchdown reception was his fifth career playoff touchdown for the Patriots, moving into a tie with Curtis Martin for second on the team's all-time list.

BRANCH CATCHES LONGEST POSTSEASON TOUCHDOWN OF HIS CAREER
Branch's 61-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the second quarter is his longest postseason touchdown pass. His previous best was a 60-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Branch in the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh on Jan. 23, 2005. It is the third longest reception in patriots history to a 73-yard pass from Brady at Denver 91-14-06) and a 63-yard touchdown pass from Brady to TE Benjamin Watson vs. Jacksonville (1-7-06). Branch's touchdown was his fifth career playoff touchdown for the Patriots (four receiving, one rushing), tying him with Curtis Martin (five rushing touchdowns) for second on the Patriots' all-time playoff scoring list. David Givens is the Patriots' all-time playoff leader with seven postseason touchdowns.

BRADY THROWNS A TOUCDOWN PASS IN 18th STRAIGHT PLAYOFF GAME
Tom Brady's 7-yard touchdown pass to WR Wes Welker in the first quarter gives him 18 straight postseason games with at least one touchdown. That streak is second in the NFL to the league record of 20 by Brett Favre. Brady was held without a touchdown pass in the first two playoff games of his career, but has had at least one scoring toss in 18 straight games since, beginning with Super Bowl XXXVI.

BRADY PLAYS IN HIS 20th POSTSEASON GAME
Tom Brady played in his 20th career playoff game in a New England uniform to tie Troy Brown (20) for second in team history. Only Tedy Bruschi (22) has played in more playoff games for the Patriots.

WELKER IS POSTSEASON RECEIVING MACHINE
Wes Welker had six receptions for 55 yards, raising his career playoff total to 40 receptions in just five career playoff games. Welker is averaging 8.0 receptions per game in the playoffs. Welker had a playoff career high of 11 receptions in Super Bowl XLII, tied with Deion Branch, Jerry Rice and Dan Ross for a Super Bowl record. Welker has also caught three touchdowns to go along with his 40 receptions in the postseason. Welker's 40 receptions rank fourth in Patriots playoff history.

BRANCH PASSES 800 PLAYOFF RECEIVING YARDS FOR HIS CAREER
With 85 receiving yards on three receptions against the Broncos, Deion Branch passed the 800-yard mark for his playoff career, finishing the game with 869 career receiving yards (773 with New England, 96 with Seattle). Branch is the 22nd player in NFL history to reach 800 career postseason receiving yards, and his 869 career playoff receiving yards rank 15th in NFL history. Cris Carter ranks 14th with 870 career playoff receiving yards.

BRANCH HAS 49 RECEPTIONS IN THE POSTSEASON WITH PATRIOTS, THIRD IN TEAM HISTORY
Deion Branch had three receptions for 85 yards against Denver, raising his career playoff total with the Patriots to 49 receptions. Branch's 49 catches rank third in team playoff history, trailing only Troy Brown (58), and Kevin Faulk (51).

TE AARON HERNANDEZ REGISTERS 43-YARD RUN IN FIRST QUARTER; PATRIOTS THIRD LONGEST RUN IN POSTSEASON HISTORY
TE Aaron Hernandez had a 43-yard run in the first quarter. It is the third longest run in patriots postseason history, trailing only a 78-yard touchdown run by Curtis Martin vs. Pittsburgh (1-5-97) and a 45-yard run by Robert Weathers at Miami(1-12-86). It's the longest run of Hernandez's career. He had 19-yard run in the 2011 season-finale vs. Buffalo on Jan. 1, 2012.

GRONKOWSKI SETS TEAM POSTSEASON RECORD AND TIES NFL RECORD WITH THREE TDS
TE Rob Gronkowski tied an NFL record for most touchdown receptions in a postseason game with three touchdowns. It is the 17th time in NFL history a player has had three touchdown receptions in a postseason game. Gronkowski and Dave Casper of Oakland (vs. Baltimore on Dec. 24, 1977) are the only tight ends of that group. Gronkowski is the first player since Sidney Rice of Minnesota vs. Dallas 1-17-10 in an NFC Divisional playoff game. Gronkowski also set the Patriots postseason mark for most touchdown receptions in a game. Against the Broncos, Gronkowski had a 10-yard touchdown in the first quarter, a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 19-yarder in the second quarter. Julian Edelman vs. Baltimore (1-10-10), Benjamin Watson vs. Jacksonville (1-12-08), Larry Garron at Buffalo (12-28-63) and Stanley Morgan at Denver (1-4-87) each had two touchdown catches in a postseason game

GRONKOWSKI TIES AN PATRIOTS TEAM RECORD WITH THREE TOUCHDOWNS IN POSTSEASON GAME
Gronkowski's three touchdowns tie a Patriots team mark for most touchdowns in a postseason game with Curtis Martin, who had three rushing touchdowns vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 5, 1997 in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

GRONKOWSKI HAS PATRIOTS 15th 100-YARD POSTSEASON GAME
Gronkowski registered the Patriots 15th postseason 100-yard receiving game, finishing with 145 yards on 10 receptions. Gronkowski's 145 receiving yards are the second highest single-game total in Patriots playoff history, and his 10 receptions are tied for the third most in single-game team playoff annals. Gronkowski has six career regular-season 100-yard games, including five in 2011.

SACK ATTACK
The Patriots sacked Tim Tebow five times for 28 yards tonight.
  • Rob Ninkovich ended the Broncos first possession of the game when he strip-sacked Tim Tebow, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Brandon Spikes at the Patriots' 41-yard line with 10:07 left in the first quarter. Ninkovich had a career-high 6.5 sacks in the 2011 regular season.
  • Vince Wilfork sacked Tim Tebow for a 4-yard loss on first down in the second quarter, helping to set up a Denver punt three plays later. Wilfork had a career-high 3.5 sacks in the 2011 regular season.
  • Wilfork and Ninkovich teamed up for an 11-yard sack of Tebow on second down in the third quarter, setting up a third-and-21 that Denver did not convert.
  • Shawn Ellis sacked Tim Tebow for a 5-yard loss on first down in the third quarter.
  • Brandon Spikes sacked Tim Tebow for a 4-yard loss on second-and-15 in the third quarter, helping to force Denver to settle for a 41-yard field goal two plays later.

STOPPED FOR A LOSS
  • Rob Ninkovich tackled Willis McGahee for a 2-yard loss on an option play in the first quarter.
  • Kyle Arrington tipped a Tim Tebow pass intended for Eddie Royal on first down in the second quarter, kick-starting a three-and-out by the Patriots defense.
  • Gerard Warren sniffed out a Tim Tebow rush play in the second quarter and dropped Tebow for a 6-yard loss, setting up a third-and-20 that Denver did not convert.
  • Jerod Mayo and Mark Anderson stopped Willis McGahee for a 2-yard loss on second down in the third quarter, setting up a third-and-eight that Denver did not convert.
  • Mark Anderson dragged Willis McGahee down for a 5-yard loss on first down in the third quarter, helping to force Denver to settle for a 41-yard field goal three plays later.
  • Brandon Spikes dropped Lance Ball for a 5-yard loss on first down in the fourth quarter.

PATRIOTS AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS
The Patriots are now 12-3 at home in the playoffs in their history. Fourteen of the franchise's 15 home playoff games have taken place since Robert Kraft purchased the team 17 years ago.

PATRIOTS IN THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
The Patriots improved to 9-6 all-time record in divisional playoff games, including 6-2 at home and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.

ALL-TIME PLAYOFF RESULTS
The Patriots have compiled a 22-15 record in their 37 playoff games and their .595 playoff winning percentage is the fourth best in NFL history among teams that have played at least 10 playoff games. New England has qualified for six Super Bowls (XX, XXXI, XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX and XLII) and one AFL Championship Game in 1963.