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January 16, 2012Former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady set an NFL playoff record with five touchdown passes in a 45-10, AFC Divisional game drubbing of Denver, setting up a meeting with Baltimore for the AFC championship and the right to go to the Super Bowl. Brady finished with six touchdowns total, completing 26 of 34 passes for 363 yards.
"This was Tom and what he does," wide receiver Deion Branch said in the postgame. "I wouldn't say it was his best game. There have been some others like this, but this was right up there with all the good ones."
Brady entered the game with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past four postseason games. The ratio was much better Saturday - six touchdowns to one pick - but Brady wouldn't have cared if the numbers were reversed as long at the Patriots won.
"It's all about winning," Brady said. "You lose a few playoff games and it's a very bitter way to end the season and it sits on your mind for quite a long time. For us to come out and play the way we did, have a very solid performance in the most important game of the year is very gratifying."
Brady completed his first eight passes and never cooled, finding tight end Rob Gronkowski 10 times for 145 yards and three scores. New England went no huddle for the better part of three quarters, and the Broncos had no answer. As a result, New England will makes its sixth AFC Championship Game appearance in 11 years, looking for a fifth Super Bowl in that span.
The news wasn't as good for former U-M cornerback Charles Woodson, who struggled with his Green Bay defensive teammates in a stunning, 37-20 NFC Divisional game loss to the New York Giants.
Former Wolverine receiver Mario Manningham caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown and the Giants stunned the Packers with a 37-yard, Hail Mary touchdown before the half to take a 20-10 lead from which Green Bay wouldn't recover.
Woodson broke up a pass in the loss, his only statistic.
"It's just a play that shouldn't happen," Woodson told reporters in the postgame of the Hail Mary. "As a defense, we shouldn't allow a play like that to happen, allow a guy to get up there and get the ball on a Hail Mary pass. But he did. They had played well up to that point, so I'm sure they felt good about that situation at that time.
It kills you. We had a lot of good plays on first and second down. We were confident we would get off the field and [the Giants] made a lot of great throws and catches and broke tackles. They did everything right to win the game."
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