The Patriots leaned on running backs Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk in the second half. Maroney had a key touchdown in the third quarter and finished with 122 rushing yards. Faulk had eight receptions for 82 yards, including a key third-down as the Patriots played keep-away in the fourth quarter. Junior Seau made a key defensive play in the third quarter when he burst through the line and stopped Michael Turner and third-and-1 inside the 10-yard line, forcing another Chargers field goal.
The Patriots advance to their fourth Super Bowl in the last seven seasons, and the seventh in franchise history. ... The Patriots improved to 6-1 all-time in AFC Championship Games (3-0 at home). ... Antonio Cromartie's interception in the third quarter was the first red-zone interception Brady has thrown in two seasons, since Champ Bailey intercepted him in a Divisional Playoff game at Denver (Jan. 14, 2006 ). Brady had thrown 62 red-zone touchdowns without an interception. ... Brady has thrown three interceptions in a playoff game only twice, and both came against the Chargers. ... Maroney finished with 122 yards rushing and a touchdown for the second consecutive game, the first back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in the postseason for the Patriots since Craig James in 1985.