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The Patriots' Perfect Season Goes On

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Benjamin Watson during the second half of a NFL divisional playoff football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008 in Foxborough, Mass.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Tom Brady was almost perfect. The Patriots still are.

Their poised and prolific quarterback knocked another mark out of the books in their record-breaking season by completing all but two of his 28 passes to lead New England to its second straight AFC championship game with a 31-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night.

And never mind that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was short on postseason experience. McCarthy and his youthful team never lost their composure on Saturday in their game against the Seahawks.

Down 14-0 just over four minutes into their NFC playoff game against Seattle, the Packers resisted wilting despite two costly turnovers and a recent playoff history that wasn't on their side in a 42-20 victory over the Seahawks.

Patriots top Jaguars 31-20 to advance to AFC championship

The New England Patriots pulled away in the second half of the game to improve to 17-0, matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to go unbeaten from the first game of the season through the Super Bowl.

Two more wins and the Patriots will join them - much to the chagrin of some of those Dolphins who cling to their no longer unique status.

Just one more win next Sunday at Gillette Stadium will put the Patriots back in the Super Bowl for the first time in three years after three championships in the previous four years. They'll face the winner of Sunday's game between San Diego and Indianapolis, which beat New England in last year's AFC title game.

Brady completed 92.6 percent of his passes, breaking Phil Simms record of 88 percent (22-of-25) set in the Super Bowl after the 1986 season in which he led the New York Giants to a 39-20 win over the Denver Broncos.

And Brady did it mostly without Randy Moss, who had only one catch.

He hit all the other receivers - throwing for three touchdowns and 262 yards.

Jacksonville's defense struggled to stop Brady and crew. New England's defense had no such problems against the Jaguars' one-two rushing punch of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, second-most productive during the regular season, who combined for just 66 yards.

It was the Patriots who dominated on the ground as Laurence Maroney rushed for 122 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown.

Add Brady's on-target passing to these regular-season records - 50 touchdown passes by Brady, 23 scoring catches by Moss and 589 points by the team - and Jacksonville (12-6) became just another team that couldn't stop the Patriots.

And they're not done yet.

Packers overwhelm Seattle 42-20 to reach NFC championship game

Brett Favre somehow spun free from the Seahawks' clutches and stumbled ahead in the snow. Ever the gambler, he flipped a wobbly, underhanded pass that he had no business trying, let alone completing.

"That's right!" he shouted.

Sure was, for Favre and the NFC championship-bound Green Bay Packers.

With Lambeau Field looking like a snow globe, Favre frolicked in the flurries, throwing three touchdown passes as the Packers beat Seattle 42-20 Saturday, the highest-scoring postseason game in Packers' history.

This must have been the scene the 38-year-old three-time NFL MVP imagined when he decided to postpone retirement and try for another Super Bowl ring.

Ryan Grant made history, too, recovering from two fumbles that put the Packers down 14-0 after only four minutes to set a Packers' postseason record with 201 yards rushing. He scored three times; Greg Jennings caught a pair of TD tosses; and Favre tied his personal best for touchdown strikes in a postseason game.

In the months ahead, Wisconsin might again become a wonder-land - will Favre come back again? - but for now, fans are guaranteed at least one more game.

The Packers (14-3) will take on the winner of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and Dallas. If the Cowboys win, they'll host Green Bay; if the Giants win, they'll visit Lambeau.

Green Bay beat the Giants this season and lost to the Cowboys. Favre would certainly prefer to stay home - he's 0-9 lifetime at Dallas.

Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks (11-7) hoped to reverse what happened the last time they were in town for the playoffs. In January 2004, the teams went to overtime and, after winning the coin toss, Hasselbeck boldly proclaimed: "We want the ball and we're going to score!"

It didn't quite work out that way as Al Harris soon intercepted Hasselbeck's pass and returned it for a 52-yard TD. In fact, a picture of the play is posted right outside the Packers' locker room.

Coming off their 35-14 win over Washington last week in the wild-card round, the Seahawks seemed primed for an upset.

On Green Bay's first play, Grant caught a pass and fumbled. Then on Seattle's first play, Shaun Alexander plunged in from the 1.

Grant didn't do any better a minute later, when another fumble set up Hasselbeck's 11-yard TD strike to Bobby Engram.

At that point, it seemed as if only a Lambeau leap of faith would bring back Green Bay. But when the snow started to pile, so did the points for the Packers.

It was 14-all after the first quarter, and Green Bay led 28-17 at halftime.

Once Favre started to connect, there was no stopping him. Coach Mike McCarthy won in his first postseason game, leading the NFL's youngest team to the next round.

The Seahawks fell to 0-8 in postseason road games since their only win, in 1983 when they beat Dan Marino and Miami in the AFC playoffs. The losing streak includes a loss in the Super Bowl two years ago.

It remains to be seen whether coach Mike Holmgren will return to the Seahawks next season. At 59, the coach who once guided Favre and the Packers to the Super Bowl title has recently dropped hints he might retire.

If he does, his final game will have come just a block or two from Holmgren Way, the street the city named in his honor.