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January 16, 2012

NFL Wolverines: Another record for Tom Brady

Former 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."

Updates on all NFL Wolverines in playoff action ... ...

NFL Wolverines
Played at Michigan
Adrian Arrington
New Orleans Saints

Caught one pass for 14 yards in New Orleans' 36-32 NFC Divisional loss at San Francisco … Caught two passes for 21 yards in the postseason after playing in four regular season games, catching two passes for 31 yards.
David Baas
New York Giants

Started at center in a stunning, 37-20 win at Green Bay in an NFC Divisional game, his second consecutive playoff start … Started all nine games in which he appeared during the regular season, missing five with injuries.
Tom Brady
New England Patriots

Completed 26 of 34 passes for 363 yards and six touchdowns against one interception in a 45-10 rout of Denver in an AFC Divisional game … Started 16 games in leading New England to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, connecting on 401 of 611 passes for 5,235 yards with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season … Had a passer rating of 105.6, third in the NFL, and also ranked second in passing yardage and fourth in touchdown passes … Became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 35 or more touchdowns in consecutive years.
Prescott Burgess
Baltimore Ravens

Cut twice but brought back each time, now on injured reserve after tearing an abdominal muscle in week eight … Baltimore advanced to the AFC championship game with an AFC Divisional game win over Houston (20-13) and next faces New England … Recorded three tackles this season in three games played during the regular season.
Jonathan Goodwin
San Francisco 49ers

Started at center in a 36-32, NFC divisional game win over New Orleans, and is slated to start against the New York Giants in the NFC title game … Started every game during the regular season for the 13-3 49ers.
Tim Jamison
Houston Texans

Played, but did not register a tackle in a 20-13 AFC Divisional game loss at Baltimore, a week after he notched a solo tackle, an assist and a pass break-up in a 31-10 AFC wildcard win over Cincinnati … Recorded 14 solo tackles, five assists, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, one pass break-up, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 16 regular season games.
Mario Manningham
New York Giants

Started and caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown in a 37-20, NFC Divisional game win at Green Bay, a week after hauling in four passes for 68 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown, in a 24-2 NFC Wildcard win over Atlanta …Started 10 of 12 games in the regular season, missing four with injury, and caught 39 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns.
Zoltan Mesko
New England Patriots

Punted twice, dropping 40- and 38-yarders inside the 20 in a 45-10, AFC divisional game win over Denver… Punted 57 times in 16 games, averaging 46.5 yards overall and 41.5 net, and dropped 24 kicks inside the 20.
Charles Woodson
Green Bay Packers

Broke up a pass for his only stat in a 37-20 loss to the Giants in an NFC divisional game … Started 15 games in the regular season and registered 62 solo stops, 12 assists, two sacks, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 17 pass break-ups and seven interceptions, one returned for a 30-yard touchdown … Tied for first in the NFL in interceptions.

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