PATRIOTS EARN FIFTH CONFERENCE TITLE OF KRAFT ERA
The Patriots have won their fifth conference championship since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England's five conference titles over that span are more than twice as many as any other NFL club over that span. Denver, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and St. Louis are tied for second with two conference titles apiece since 1994 (pending the outcome of tonight's Packers-Giants NFC Championship Game). Since Kraft purchased the team, the Patriots lead the NFL in overall victories (162), overall winning percentage (162-85, .656), Super Bowl victories (3), conference championships (5), playoff victories (17), playoff games played (23) and playoff winning percentage (17-6, .739). Dating back to the 1996 season, the Patriots have now won five conference championships in the last 12 seasons. New England has won four AFC titles in the last seven seasons (2001-07) and three AFC Championships in the last five seasons (2003-07).
PATRIOTS' FIVE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP BERTHS SINCE 1994 ARE SECOND HIGHEST TOTAL IN MAJOR AMERICAN SPORTS
The Patriots will go to their fifth Super Bowl since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994, marking the second highest number of league championship appearances over that span among all NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL teams. Among those major American sports leagues, only the New York Yankees, with six World Series trips over that span, have made more league championship appearances than the Patriots since 1994.
PATRIOTS WIN SIXTH AFC CHAMPIONSHIP
With their victory in today's AFC Championship Game, the Patriots have won their sixth AFC Championship and will go to the Super Bowl for the sixth time. New England's six Super Bowl berths tie the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos for the second highest all-time total, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys' NFL-record eight Super Bowl trips. Over the last quarter-century, the Patriots' six Super Bowl appearances are more than any other team.
ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES
|New England Patriots||A||6|
|San Francisco 49ers||N||5|
SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES IN LAST 25 YRS
(Last 25 years, 1983-2007)
|New England Patriots||A||6|
|San Francisco 49ers||N||4|
PATRIOTS TIE ALL-TIME NFL RECORD FOR OVERALL VICTORIES IN A SEASON
The Patriots improved to 18-0 this season, tying the NFL's all-time record for most overall victories in a season (regular-season and playoffs combined). New England joins the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears as the only teams in NFL history to win 18 games in a single season. The 1984 49ers and the 1985 Bears both went 15-1 in the regular season and won three playoff games to earn Super Bowl championships. The Patriots' 18 wins have set a franchise record, surpassing the 17 overall victories by the 2003 and 2004 Patriots (14 regular-season wins and three playoff victories).
PATRIOTS IMPROVE TO 11-1 ALL-TIME IN HOME PLAYOFF GAMES
The Patriots improved to 11-1 (.917) in home playoff games, improving upon the best home playoff record in NFL history (minimum three games played). The Green Bay Packers rank second with a 14-2 (.875) record, pending the result of tonight's NFC Championship Game. The Patriots have won their 11th consecutive home playoff game, extending the second longest home playoff winning streak in NFL history. The Patriots trail only the Packers' NFL-record 13 straight home playoff wins from 1939-2001.
PATRIOTS IMPROVE TO 6-1 ALL-TIME IN AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
The Patriots improved to 6-1 (.857) in AFC Championship Games, giving them the highest conference championship winning percentage of any NFL team in the Super Bowl Era (minimum five appearances). The Washington Redskins rank second with a 5-1 (.833) record in conference title games. The Patriots improved to 3-0 at home in the AFC Championship Games, with today's victory over San Diego joining a 20-6 win over Jacksonville at Foxboro Stadium on Jan. 12, 1997 and a 24-14 win over Indianapolis at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 18, 2004.
PATRIOTS IMPROVE TO 21-12 ALL-TIME IN PLAYOFFS; SAME AS TODAY'S FINAL SCORE (21-12)
The Patriots improved their overall playoff record to 21-12 (.636), the second best playoff record in NFL history (minimum 10 games). Green Bay ranks first with a 25-14 (.641) overall record, pending the result of tonight's NFC Championship Game. New England's 21-12 all-time playoff record mirrors the score in today's AFC Championship Game, where the Patriots beat the Chargers 21-12.
BELICHICK WINS FOURTH CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP AS HEAD COACH
Bill Belichick has won his fourth conference championship as a head coach and is the eighth head coach in NFL history to lead his team to four Super Bowls. Only Don Shula (6) and Tom Landry (5) have directed their teams to more Super Bowls. Belichick has won three Super Bowl titles as a head coach and is one of four head coaches to win three or more Super Bowls, joining Chuck Noll (4), Bill Walsh (3) and Joe Gibbs (3). The Patriots' victory over the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game was Belichick's 15th career playoff victory, a total that ranks fifth all-time. Belichick's career playoff record of 15-3 (.833) is the second-best in NFL history, trailing only Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900).
COLDEST PATRIOTS GAME SINCE 2004 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP
The temperature at kickoff of today's game was 23 degrees with a wind chill of nine degrees. It is the coldest kickoff temperature for a Patriots game since the 2004 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, when the kickoff temperature was 11 degrees with a wind chill of minus-one degree (Jan. 23, 2005). Today's kickoff temperature marks the coldest Patriots home game since the a 2003 divisional playoff game against Tennessee, when the temperature was four degrees with a wind chill of minus-10 (Jan. 10, 2004). Today's kickoff temperature of 23 degrees ties a Dec. 27, 1992 game against Miami as the seventh-coldest home game in Patriots history. With their victory today, the Patriots improved to 16-1 since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 30 degrees or less.
BRADY RECORDS 100th OVERALL VICTORY
Tom Brady recorded his 100th overall victory, including regular-season and playoff games. His overall record now stands at 100-26 (.794), including an 86-24 (.782) regular-season record and a 14-2 (.875) playoff record. Brady's 14-2 (.875) record in playoff games ranks second all-time among signal callers who have made at least 10 playoff starts, trailing only Bart Starr's 9-1 (.900) mark for the Green Bay Packers.
WELKER SCORES SECOND TOUCHDOWN IN SECOND CAREER PLAYOFF GAMEWes Welker scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady with 12:15 remaining in the game to give the Patriots a 21-12 lead. Welker, playing in his second career playoff game, scored his second career playoff touchdown. Last week against Jacksonville, he also scored on a 6-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Welker caught a career-best eight touchdowns in the 2007 regular season, a total that ranked second on the team. Entering this season, Welker had caught one career touchdown pass in 47 career games.
GAFFNEY SCORES THIRD PLAYOFF TOUCHDOWN IN FIVE CAREER PLAYOFF GAMES
Jabar Gaffney gave the Patriots a 14-6 lead on a 12-yard touchdown reception from Tom Brady in the second quarter. The touchdown reception was the third of Gaffney's playoff career and his first of the 2007 playoffs. Last season, Gaffney caught one touchdown pass in each of the Patriots' final two playoff games, including a six-yard scoring grab in last season's divisional playoff victory over San Diego. In the 2007 regular season, Gaffney totaled a career-high five touchdown receptions.
MARONEY SCORES TOUCHDOWN FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT GAME
Laurence Maroney scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 7-3 lead. The touchdown was Maroney's second in as many playoff games this season and marked his fifth consecutive game with a touchdown, including the final three regular-season games of the 2007 season and both of this season's playoff games. Maroney's five straight games with a rushing touchdown tie the third longest such streak in team history. Only Curtis Martin (seven straight games in 1996) and Robert Edwards (six straight games in 1998) have scored rushing touchdowns in more consecutive games for the Patriots.
SAMUEL INTERCEPTION SETS UP TOUCHDOWN
Asante Samuel intercepted a Philip Rivers pass intended for Chris Chambers in the second quarter and returned the interception 10 yards to give the Patriots possession on the Chargers' 24-yard line and set up Jabar Gaffney's 12-yard touchdown reception that gave the Patriots a 14-6 lead. The interception was the fifth of Samuel's 13-game playoff career. His five playoff interceptions rank second in Patriots history, trailing only Rodney Harrison's team-record seven playoff interceptions. Samuel has five interceptions in his last seven playoff games dating back to the 2005 season.
SEAU RECORDS SECOND CAREER PLAYOFF SACK, FIRST SINCE SUPER BOWL XXIX
Junior Seau sacked Philip Rivers for a four-yard sack on third down in the first quarter, forcing a San Diego punt on the next play. The sack was the second of Seau's eight-game playoff career can was his first playoff sack since Jan. 29, 1995, when he sacked San Francisco's Steve Young in Super Bowl XXIX while playing for the San Diego Chargers. In the third quarter, Seau came up with another big play when he stopped Michael Turner for a 2-yard loss on third-and-1 from the 4-yard line, forcing a Chargers field goal.
HOBBS RECORDS FIRST CAREER PLAYOFF INTERCEPTION
Ellis Hobbs intercepted a Philip Rivers pass in the second quarter, recording his first career playoff interception. Hobbs's first playoff interception came in his seventh career playoff game. His only interception of the 2007 regular season came in the finale against the New York Giants, and Hobbs now has two interceptions in his last three regular-season and playoff contests.
- Tedy Bruschi played in his 21st career playoff game today. He has passed Troy Brown (20 playoff games) for the most playoff games played in Patriots history. Jerry Rice holds the NFL record with 29 career playoff games played.
- Randy Moss recorded a 14-yard rush in the first quarter. It was Moss's first rushing attempt since 2003 and was the first rushing attempt of his 10-game playoff career.
- Tedy Bruschi broke up a pass intended for Antonio Gates at the goal line with San Diego facing a second-and-goal in the second quarter, helping to force a field goal two plays later.
- Kelley Washington leapt into the air and saved a Chris Hanson punt from going into the end zone for a touchback in the second quarter, allowing Kyle Eckel to down the ball at the Chargers' 4-yard line.
- The Patriots improved their all-time record to 16-1 when leading at halftime in the playoffs.
- Kevin Faulk led the Patriots with eight receptions for 82 yards. His 82 receiving yards mark the highest total of his 16-game playoff career. His previous playoff career high was 45 receiving yards, achieved on Jan. 7, 2006 in a wild card round victory over Jacksonville.
The Patriots will play in their sixth Super Bowl, joining three other teams (Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh) with at least six Super Bowl appearances. New England's six Super Bowl are tied with Denver and Pittsburgh, trailing only Dallas's eight berths for the most all-time. The Patriots are 3-2 in their previous five Super Bowl appearances