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January 10, 2013

NFL Wolverines: Several alive, playing well

Once again, Michigan is well represented in the NFL playoffs. Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots in his quest for a fourth Super Bowl ring, Charles Woodson returns from injury for Green Bay and other storylines heading toward the weekend's Divisional match-ups

NFL Playoff Wolverines
Played at Michigan
Tom Brady
New England Patriots

Brady connected on 401 of 637 passes for 4,827 yards with 34 touchdowns and eight picks in the regular season, and he also rushed for four scores this year for the 12-4 (No. 2 AFC seed) Patriot. He finished seventh among NFL starters in passer rating (98.7), fourth in passing yards and fourth in touchdown passes.

Brady has led the Patriots to the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons, only missing them once as the starter (2002).

"You don't take these things for granted," Brady told the News-Telegram, "and it's certainly a privilege to be in this position that we're in."

New England hosts Houston Sunday at 4:30.

Brady will play in his 23rd playoff game, a team record. He ranks second all-time with a .727 winning postseason percentage, third with 38 postseason touchdown passes and fourth with 5,285 passing yards in the playoffs. He has 16 playoff wins and needs one more to snap a tie with Joe Montana for most by an NFL starting quarterback, the Telegram reports.

"All that stuff, historically, I think you look back on some of the great seasons we've had and we'll enjoy those at some point," Brady said. "I don't think now is really the time. I think so much of our energy is focused on the short-term goals, which it should be and which it needs to be - certainly not much beyond that. I certainly owe that to my teammates to be as prepared as I can to be at my best. That's what I'm going to try to be.

"I think Coach [Bill Belichick] said it best - 'You make one mistake in this type of game and that's your season.' It's no more, 'I'll get it figured out next week' and 'it's something we have to learn from and move on.' No, it's your season. That's the kind of urgency you have in practice and certainly when we play."
Alan Branch
Seattle Seahawks

Branch recorded 16 solo tackles, one sack for four yards, one tackle for loss, 14 assists, two pass break-ups and five quarterback hurries in 16 starts this year and enjoyed a very good game in Seattle's upset win at Washington. He started and notched three solo tackles and two assists, a sack for four yards, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry in the 24-14 victory.

"We were just ready to play hard," Branch told the Seattle News-Tribune. "It's playoff time. We don't care who we're playing. It could be Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins - it could be the janitor. It doesn't matter."
Jonathan Goodwin
San Francisco 49ers

Goodwin started all 16 games this season for 11-4-1 and NFC No. 2 seed San Francisco, which will face Green Bay this weekend. Goodwin has already won one Super Bowl (with New Orleans) and made it to the NFC title game a year ago with the 49ers.
Leon Hall
Cincinnati Bengals

Hall finished the regular season with 24 solo tackles, 14 assists, two interceptions returned 61 yards (one for touchdown), one tackle for loss, one special teams tackle and 11 pass break-ups in 14 starts, missing two games with a leg injury for the Bengals. Hall notched four tackles, a pass break-up and an interception for touchdown (17 yards on a great play - see below) that silenced the Houston crowd in a 19-13 loss to the Texans in a Wildcard game.


Tim Jamison
Houston Texans

Jamison blew out his Achilles and was lost for the year in a 42-24 loss to Green Bay in Week Six. He notched two solo tackles, one assist, a sack for 12 yards, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and one pass break-up in six games this year - the Texans are slated to play at New England in an AFC Divisional game this weekend.
Mario Manningham
San Francisco 49ers

Manningham's last reception of the year was a catch for no yards, followed by a fumble in a 42-13 loss at Seattle in Week 16, one in which he suffered a torn ACL ad PCL and was lost for the year. He hauled in 41 passes for 449 yards and a touchdown and rushed three times for 64 yards in 11 games (nine starts) this year.

San Francisco is slated to host Green Bay in an NFC Divisional game this weekend.
Zoltan Mesko
New England Patriots

Mesko punted 60 times this year, averaging 43.2 yards per kick (37.9 net) and dropping 28 inside the 20.

"To be able to win on this consistent level is very, very hard," Mesko said of New England's recent playoff success. "It's definitely a did-you-do-your-job kind of mentality. We look at facts, not emotions."
Charles Woodson
Green Bay Packers

Woodson returned from a broken collarbone suffered in a 30-20 win at St. Louis in Week Seven to notch four solo tackles, two assists and a tackle for loss in a wildcard win over Minnesota. He and the Packers will face San Francisco this weekend.

The veteran recorded 25 solo tackles, 13 assists, 1.5 sacks for 5.5 yards, one tackle for loss, an interception, five pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble in six starts this year.

"I really went into the game scared, not really knowing what was going to happen. I mean, you feel good about your shoulder being healed, but being in that position where you've broken it before, it's a funny feeling," Woodson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Getting in there, getting that first tackle, hitting the ground a couple of times, having people fall on top of me on the side where I broke it - and to get up with no pain? Let me tell you, that was a load off my shoulder." Woodson helped keep Minnesota's Adrian Peterson to 99 rushing yards, half of his average against the Packers this year.

"He made a real great play in the second half when AP looked like he was about to break for a long one," said fellow safety Morgan Burnett. "And Wood just made a great open-field tackle. I felt that was a great play. It really contained Adrian Peterson and kept him from breaking out more than 100 yards.

"Wood was excited to be out there. It was good getting our captain back."

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