PLAYOFF WINNING STREAKThe Patriots have set the NFL's all-time record for consecutive playoff victories, having won 10 consecutive playoff games. The Patriots surpassed previous record set by the Green Bay Packers, when their Vince Lombardi coached teams won nine straight playoff games from 1961-67. The Patriots have not lost a playoff game since Jan. 3, 1999, when they dropped a 25-10 decision to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Wild Card Weekend game in Jacksonville. Since then, the Patriots have gone 10-0 in the playoffs and have won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX.
BIG WILLIE STYLEWillie McGinest set an NFL single-game playoff record with 4.5 sacks tonight, surpassing the previous record of 3.5, shared by Washington's Rich Milot (1984) and Chicago's Richard Dent (1985). McGinest's 4.5 sacks brings his career total to 16.0 playoff sacks, setting an all-time NFL record, surpassing Bruce Smith's total of 13.5. Tonight marked McGinest's second career playoff game in which he registered three or more sacks, joining his triple-sack performance against Tennessee in the 2003 divisional playoffs (1/10/04). McGinest played in his 17th career playoff game tonight (a Patriots record). In his regular season career, McGinest has recorded a total of 78.0 sacks, good for third on the team's all-time sacks list and tying him for the lead among active NFL linebackers (tied with teammate Chad Brown).
SCORING STREAK BY GIVENSDavid Givens grabbed a 3-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady with 7:19 left in the third quarter to give the Patriots a 14-3 lead. Givens has now caught a touchdown pass in six consecutive playoff games, the second longest such streak in NFL history. John Stallworth of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds the NFL record with a touchdown catch in eight straight playoff games from 1978-83. Givens, who is playing in his seventh career playoff game tonight, has caught a touchdown in each of his last six postseason contests dating back to the 2003 AFC Championship Game. Givens' six career playoff touchdowns are the most in Patriots history - twice as many receiving scores as the next closest player (Stanley Morgan, 3) and one more total touchdown than Curtis Martin (5).
TOUCHDOWN TOMMYTom Brady improved his career playoff record to 10-0, recording the longest playoff winning streak by a quarterback in NFL history, surpassing Green Bay's Bart Starr (9 straight wins from 1961-67). Brady threw three touchdown passes tonight and recorded a 116.4 passer rating, the second highest of his playoff career (130.5 at PIT on 1/23/05). With his three touchdown passes tonight, Tom Brady has now recorded 14 career playoff touchdowns with just three interceptions. Brady has thrown just three career playoff interceptions while attempting 331 postseason passes. His playoff rate of one interception per 110 attempts is an NFL record.
POSTSEASON PROWESSBill Belichick is the winningest head coach in NFL playoff history. With the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl XXXIX, Belichick eclipsed Vince Lombardi, the man whose name is emblazoned on the Super Bowl trophy. Coach Belichick has won 10 playoff games in a row, surpassing the NFL-record streak set by Lombardi's Packers, who won nine straight playoff games from 1961-67. Belichick is a perfect 10-0 in the postseason as head coach of the Patriots.
BIG BENJAMINBenjamin Watson created the longest touchdown pass play in Patriots postseason history when he grabbed a pass from Tom Brady and raced diagonally across the field for a 63-yard scoring catch and a 21-3 Patriots lead. The 63-yard scoring catch beat the previous long of 60 yards on a reception by Deion Branch from Brady in last season's AFC Championship Game (1/27/05). The catch was Watson's first career playoff touchdown in his first career playoff game. Watson led the team in receptions with five catches for 91 yards, the best single-game performance of his career. His previous best was his 4-catch, 66-yard performance against New Orleans on Nov. 20.
ASANTE SAMUEL SCORESCornerback Asante Samuel picked off a Byron Leftwich pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown and a 28-3 Patriots lead. It was the fourth interception return for a touchdown in Patriots playoff history (Rodney Harrison on 1/23/05; Ty Law on 2/3/01; Todd Collins on 12/28/97). The return was the second longest in Patriots playoff history, trailing only Harrison's 87-yard touchdown return in the 2004 AFC Championship Game. For Samuel, it was the third interception return for a touchdown in his three-year career and his first interception in the playoffs. Samuel also returned interceptions for touchdowns on Sept. 21, 2003 against the N.Y. Jets and also on Dec. 12, 2004 against Cincinnati.
MR. TURNOVEREugene Wilson forced a fumble with a big hit on Jacksonville running back Alvin Pearman in the second quarter, and Richard Seymour pounced on the loose ball to give the Patriots possession. The takeaway was the fourth for Wilson in his last three playoff games, including tonight. He also recorded two interceptions in the 2004 AFC Championship Game and forced a fumble (that was recovered by Randall Gay) in Super Bowl XXXIX.
TOUCHDOWN FOR BROWNWide receiver Troy Brown recorded his second career playoff touchdown reception on an 11-yard grab from Tom Brady in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. Brown, who is playing in his 16th career playoff game, recorded his other playoff touchdown catch in a Wild Card Round game against Miami on Dec. 28, 1997. In addition to his two career playoff touchdown catches, Brown also returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh (1/27/02).
THIRD DOWN DThe Patriots defense allowed the Jaguars to convert just one of 12 third downs for an 8% third down conversion rate. That mark is the lowest for a Patriots opponent in the playoffs since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and the lowest in any game since the Buffalo Bills were 0-7 on third downs on Nov. 14, 2004.
COLVIN SACKRosevelt Colvin sacked Byron Leftwich for a 3-yard loss with 11:41 remaining in the first half. The sack was the first of Colvin's playoff career. He appeared in his fifth career postseason game tonight. Colvin led the Patriots with 7.0 sacks in the 2005 regular season.
SCORELESS FIRST QUARTERWith tonight's scoreless first quarter, four of the Patriots' last five playoff games have begun with a scoreless opening period. The five-game stretch began with Super Bowl XXXVIII, when the Patriots and Panthers ended the first quarter in a 0-0 tie. The only time in the Patriots' last five playoff games that either team got on the board was in the 2004 AFC Championship Game, when the Patriots led the Pittsburgh Steelers 10-3 after one quarter. The Patriots and their opponents were also both scoreless following the first quarter of the 2004 divisional playoff game against Indianapolis and Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.
HALFTIME LEADFollowing the Patriots' 28-3 victory - in a game in which the Patriots led 7-3 at halftime - New England is now 42-1 in its last 43 regular-season and playoff games when leading at the half. The Patriots were also 7-0 in the 2005 regular season when holding opponents to 7 points or fewer in the first half. After tonight's game, the Patriots have won 24 straight home games when leading at halftime.
TROY BROWN: JACK OF ALL TRADESWide receiver Troy Brown appeared on defense as an extra defensive back and recorded four tackles, his first four tackles of the 2005 season. He was credited with his first tackle since the 2004 AFC Championship Game following a reception by Ernest Wilford just before the 2-minute warning in the first half. Brown saw significant time on defense in 2004 - including defensive appearances in all three of New England's playoff games - and recorded three interceptions and 17 regular-season tackles. He added six tackles in the 2004 playoffs. This season, Brown saw limited defensive action and did not record any defensive statistics. Brown ranks second on the Patriots' all-time receptions list with 514 career catches, just 20 grabs behind Stanley Morgan's franchise-record 534 receptions.
VINATIERI'S PUNTAdam Vinatieri's first-quarter pooch punt was his first career playoff punt. The ball was downed at the Jaguars' 4-yard line by Lonie Paxton. Vinatieri has recorded two career punts in the regular season - both of which were downed inside the 20-yard line (12/8/96 and 12/9/01).
HOT WHEN IT'S COLD IN THE PLAYOFFSFollowing tonight's victory, the Patriots are now 7-0 in the playoffs when the temperature is at the freezing point or below (since 1970 AFL-NFL merger). Tonight's kickoff temperature was 24 degrees. Including regular-season and playoff games, the Patriots are now 25-3 (.893) since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder. Also since 1993, the Patriots are 21-2 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and 15-1 when it's 30 degrees or colder. Additionally, Tom Brady is 21-1 as a starter when the temperature is less than 40 degrees. Brady's only loss as a starter when the temperature has been less than 40 degrees came last week in the regular-season finale against Miami, when he saw just one quarter of action.
HOME SWEET HOMEFollowing their 28-3 victory over the Jaguars tonight, the Patriots are 8-1 at home in the playoffs in their history and own an 8-game home winning streak in postseason play. New England has not lost at home in the playoffs in more than 25 years, dating back to Dec. 31, 1978. Eight of the franchise's nine home playoff games have taken place since Robert Kraft purchased the team 12 years ago.