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NFL conference title rehash

Posted: January 16, 2013 - 12:06am

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Jan. 20

San Francisco at Atlanta, 3 p.m. Colin Kaepernick rushed for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes as the 49ers (12-4-1) advanced to the NFC title game for the second straight year. Matt Bryant’s 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left lifted the Falcons (14-3) over Seattle and gave them their first win in four postseason games under coach Mike Smith and with Matt Ryan at quarterback.

Baltimore at New England, 6:30 p.m. A rematch of last year’s AFC championship game, in which the Patriots (13-4) won 23-20 — after Lee Evans had a pass knocked out of his hands in the end zone and Billy Cundiff missed a potential tying field goal for the Ravens (12-6) in the closing seconds. Baltimore is looking for its first Super Bowl since winning one in the 2000 season, while New England is going for its second straight trip.

STARS

Passing

—Tom Brady, Patriots, became the winningest quarterback in postseason play, throwing for three touchdowns to beat Houston 41-28 for his 17th playoff victory and lifting the New England Patriots into the AFC championship game.

—Matt Ryan, Falcons, hooked up with Harry Douglas on a 29-yard pass and Tony Gonzalez on a 19-yarder to set up the winning field goal in Atlanta’s 30-28 win over Seattle. Ryan, shaking off his struggles of his first three postseason games, threw three touchdown passes to tie a franchise playoff record and overcame two interceptions, finishing 24 of 35 for a personal playoffs-best 250 yards.

—Russell Wilson, Seahawks, threw for 385 yards and two touchdown passes and ran for another score, doing all he could to rally Seattle to a huge comeback before Atlanta won it 30-28.

—Matt Schaub, Texans, was 34 of 51 for 343 yards and two touchdowns and an interception as Houston fell to New England 41-28.

Rushing

—Stevan Ridley, Patriots, rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries to help lead New England past Houston 41-28.

—Arian Foster, Texans, had 90 yards rushing and a score and also caught a 1-yard TD pass in a losing cause as Houston fell to New England 41-28.

—Michael Turner, Falcons, ran for 98 yards on 14 carries in Atlanta’s 30-28 win over Seattle.

Receiving

—Shane Vereen, Patriots, had five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 41 yards and a score in New England’s 41-28 win over Houston.

—Zach Miller, Seahawks, caught eight passes for 142 yards and a TD in a losing cause as Seattle fell to Atlanta 30-28.

—Wes Welker, Patriots, had eight receptions for 131 yards as New England cruised past Houston 41-28.

Special Teams

—Matt Bryant, Falcons, kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds to give Atlanta a stunning 30-28 victory over Seattle in an NFC divisional playoff game.

—Danieal Manning, Texans, returned the opening kickoff 94 yards to put the Texans in good field position to start the game, but they settled for a field goal in a 41-28 loss to New England.

Defense

—Bobby Wagner, Seahawks, had eight tackles and an interception in a losing cause as Seattle fell to Atlanta 30-28.

—Rob Ninkovich, Patriots, had an interception in the third quarter that led to a touchdown by New England six plays later as the Patriots cruised past Houston 41-28.

STREAKS & STATS

New England’s Bill Belichick has 17 postseason wins, third among NFL coaches behind Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19). ... New England has played in eight AFC championship games, going 7-1, including 5-1 with Brady and Belichick. ... Houston’s Arian Foster had 90 yards rushing against New England, the first time in four playoff games he did not reach 100. But his 515 yards tie him for most in a player’s first four playoff games with Denver’s Terrell Davis. ... Seattle erased a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter before losing 30-28 to Atlanta on Sunday. If the Seahawks had held on, they would have been the first team in NFL postseason history to overcome a deficit of 20 or more points in the fourth quarter to win, according to STATS. ... Michael Turner rushed for 98 yards, Jacquizz Rodgers added 64 and Atlanta finished with a season-high 167 yards overall against Seattle.

BRADY’S BUNCH OF WINS

Tom Brady became the winningest quarterback in postseason play, throwing for three touchdowns Sunday to beat Houston 41-28 on Sunday night and lift the New England Patriots into the AFC championship game. It was Brady’s 17th victory, surpassing his childhood hero, Joe Montana. If Brady can lead the Patriots past Baltimore and then win the Super Bowl, he’ll equal the 49ers’ Hall of Famer for NFL championships. Brady has guided the Patriots to five Super Bowls, winning the first three.

SIDELINED

New England tight end Rob Gronkowski needs surgery on his broken left arm, a person with knowledge of the injury told The Associated Press. Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots’ eighth offensive play of Sunday’s 41-28 victory over Houston. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not released details of the injury. Running back Danny Woodhead also injured a thumb in the first quarter and the severity of it was uncertain. ... Atlanta played the second half of its 30-28 win over Seattle without defensive end John Abraham, who re-injured his ailing right ankle. There was no word whether he’ll be able to play next week against San Francisco in the NFC title game.

SPEAKING

“Our quarterback is a special player. They call him Matty Ice, but I feel like we’ve got two Matty Ices. There’s Matty Ice Ryan and Matty Ice Bryant.” — Atlanta coach Mike Smith on quarterback Matt Ryan, who made two clutch throws to get the Falcons in good position, and kicker Matt Bryant, who kicked a 49-yarder with 8 seconds left to beat Seattle 30-28.

“I think the two best teams are in the final. Baltimore certainly deserves to be here and so do we.” — New England’s Tom Brady after the Patriots’ 41-28 win over the Houston Texans put them in the AFC title game for the second straight year against the Ravens.

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