The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers advanced in the National Football League play-offs with victories in second-round games on Saturday night.
Tom Brady threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns as New England beat Jacksonville Jaguars 31-20 in the American Football Conference, while Green Bay rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to beat the Seattle Seahawks 42-20 to advance in the National Football Conference.
"It keeps getting tougher every step of the way through the play-offs," said the Patriots coach, Bill Belichick. "Whoever it is, we know we'll have to play better. It's good to be playing next week."
In Foxboro, Massachusetts, Benjamin Watson caught two scoring passes and Laurence Maroney ran for 122 yards and a touchdown for New England, who are one win from their fourth Super Bowl in seven years. Brady, who has won all seven of his career home play-off games, completed 26 of 28 passes to set an NFL post-season single- game record with a 92.9 completion percentage. His first scoring throw to Watson gave him 13 consecutive play-off games with a touchdown pass, tying with Dan Marino for the second-most in NFL history.
"It's easy to play quarterback when you've got receivers who are always open and an offensive line that never lets anyone touch you," Brady said. "It makes it fun to play."
In the first half, Brady completed all 12 of his passes for 120 yards and a score while the Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was 12-of-14 for 149 yards and two touchdowns as the teams were tied 14-14 after 30 minutes at Gillette Stadium.
New England (17-0) broke the tie as Brady threw a six-yard scoring pass to Wes Welker on the first possession of the third quarter. He later completed a nine-yard touchdown to Watson to give the Patriots a 28-17 lead.
Garrard was 22 of 33 passing for 278 yards with an interception for the Jaguars (12-6), who had two turnovers to none by the Patriots. "We played well in spurts, but it was not enough to take them down," said the Jaguars coach, Jack Del Rio.
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, Ryan Grant set team post-season records by rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns, and Brett Favre threw for three scores at snowy Lambeau Field. Grant recovered from two fumbles that helped Seattle take a 14-0 lead in the game's first four minutes.
"I have to admit, being down 14-0, I wasn't too optimistic," Favre said. "It was huge for us to bounce back that way. The way they started – we wanted to have that start."
Grant shattered the Packers' post-season rushing mark of 156 yards set by Ahman Green against Philadelphia in 2004. Favre completed 18 of 23 passes for 173 yards and extended his own NFL record with a touchdown pass in his 17th consecutive play-off game.