Tom Brady directed three long touchdown drives, capped one of them with a perfect touch pass to David Thomas, and helped the Patriots clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East crown with a 24-21 win on a rainy Christmas Eve in 2006. Brady finished 28-of-39 for 249 yards and a touchdown, completing passes to 10 receivers and picking apart the NFL's second-ranked defense mostly with short and quick throws.
While the Patriots were resting their players during a first-round bye, the Jaguars squeaked past the Steelers on the legs of quarterback David Garrard and kicker Josh Scobee. Ben Roethlisberger overcame a sloppy start to rally his team back for a one-point fourth-quarter lead, only to watch Garrard scamper for 32 yards on a fourth-and-2 to put his team in field-goal range. Scobee finished the job, lifting Jacksonville to a 31-29 win with a 25-yard field goal.
How they got here
The Patriots never wavered in their quest for an undefeated regular season, surviving near-defeats at the hands of the Colts, Eagles, Ravens and Giants on their way to 16-0. ... Following a Week 1 loss to division-rival Tennessee, the Jaguars reeled off four straight wins before losing to Indianapolis in Week 7. Jacksonville finished the season strong, winning six of their final eight games to earn the fifth playoff spot in the AFC.
Thanks to depth, the Jaguars defense has survived multiple injuries to its front seven. Injuries to defensive ends Reggie Hayward and Bobby McCray did not slow down their potent defensive attack. LB Mike Peterson has been ruled out for Saturday's game and will miss his eighth straight contest with a broken hand. ... Following seasons filled with injuries to their secondary, the Patriots have stayed relatively healthy this season. The loss of OLB Rosevelt Colvin allowed Adalius Thomas to move back to the more familiar ouside linebacker position. RB Sammy Morris filled in while Laurence Maroney was injured early in the season before being injured himself and placed on IR in Week 6.
There is always an under-the-radar player that makes a difference in playoff games. Check out why we expect Reggie Williams and Kevin Faulk to have an impact in this contest on our X-factor page.
Get the complete breakdown, position-by-position, of both teams by visitng our team capsules page.
Did you know?
In his playoff debut last week, Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew totaled 171 all-purpose yards (29 rushing, 43 receiving, 96 kick return) and two TDs. In his only career meeting vs. New England, Jones-Drew rushed for 131 yards and two TDs and added six receptions for 41 yards. ... Patriots QB Tom Brady is 12-2 in the postseason with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.