FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tom Brady completed his first 16 passes and was 25-of-27 for 254 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night to help the unbeaten New England Patriots open a 31-20 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter of their AFC divisional playoff game.
12-JAN-2008: New England Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel (50)
stretches before practice begins at the NFL football team's facility
in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. Vrabel is one of five
Patriots named to the leagues All-Pro team. The undefeated Patriots
will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC divisional playoff game
Saturday in Foxborough.(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) [Photo copyright
2008 by AP]
LAST MINUTE TRAVEL DEALS
Laurence Maroney ran 15 times for 111 yards and a 1-yard touchdown as the Patriots tried to extend their perfect season with a 17th consecutive victory.
The winner will play the winner of Sunday's game between San Diego and Indianapolis for the AFC championship and a berth in the Super Bowl. If the Patriots make it to the Feb. 3 NFL title game, they'll have a chance to complete the league's first 19-0 season.
David Garrard kept the Jaguars close, completing 18 of 25 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, including an 8-yard touchdown pass as his knee brushed the tips of the turf while in the grasp of linebacker Mike Vrabel. Garrard also hit Ernest Wilford for a 6-yard TD to make it 14-14 with 7:46 left in the half.
But Brady broke it open in the third with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and a 9-yarder to Benjamin Watson - his second scoring catch of the game.
The Jaguars scored on a spectacular opening possession that gave them hope of ending New England's chances to top the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who won all 17 of their games.
Garrard found a wide-open Marcedes Lewis for 34 yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Patriots 43. Then, on third-and-goal from the 8, Vrabel wrapped up Garrard and was bringing him down when he flung the ball into the end zone and into the arms of Matt Jones.
Replays showed that Garrard's knee might have been down when he released the ball. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't quite as quick with his release of the red replay flag: He was running toward the field with his arm cocked, ready to throw it, when the ball was snapped for the extra point.
He retreated toward midfield and tucked it back into his sock as the ball split the uprights to give Jacksonville a 7-0 lead. It was the first time the Patriots allowed a score on the opening drive of a playoff game since 1998.
After being sacked on New England's first offensive play, Brady led the Patriots down the field by completing all five of his pass attempts to five different receivers. The big ones: A 14-yarder to Randy Moss on fourth-and-5 from the Jaguars 40, followed four plays later with a 3-yard TD to Watson.
Defensive lineman Ty Warren knocked the ball out of Garrard's hands on Jacksonville's next possession, and Vrabel recovered at the Jaguars' 29 yard-line. Brady led the Patriots to the 1 before Maroney scored on the first play of the second quarter to give the Patriots a 14-7 lead. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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