New England 24, San Diego 21

(a little bit of daring-do, Kevin Faulk taking a direct snap and rushing for the game-tying 2 point conversion in the 4th quarter)

Under normal circumstances, an 8 point lead for a 14-2 team at home, with minutes left in the 4th quarter, while not insurmountable, would seem relatively comfortable. But there’s nothing normal about the principal players in Sunday’s AFC championship, not the adulterous coaching superbrain whose defense held the Chargers’ explosive attack to just 3 scores, nor the best big game QB of his generation, the league’s offensive MVP (who deserved better), nor the other head coach, whose record of playoff futility makes Susan Lucci look like a closer.

Though Brady led New England on the game’s tying and winning drives in the 4th quarter, his 4 turnovers (1 fumble, 3 INT’s) are a glaring item on the stat sheet. I’m not sure which is more remarklable, that the Pats & Bolts combined to turn the ball over so often times, or that the AFC’s remaining QB’s, Brady and Peyton Manning, have 8 INT’s between them this postseason.

While there’s no such thing as a quiet 189 yards of total offense (ie. L.T.’s total), on a day in which the Patriots secondary proved so frustrating to Phillip Rivers, it’s hard not to imagine Marty Schottenheimher wishing he’d given his All-Universe RB more carries.

Marty (or at least his paymasters) might all be pondering San Diego scoring zero points on 7 occasions they had the ball in New England territory.

Either way, this was an archetypical New England playoff win, one that recalled so many others from the Hooded Casanova’s Era Of Excellence.

Stephen Gostkowski : Just call him Vinatieri II. Nate Kadeing was going to miss sooner or later, and the 54 yard distance was probably a bigger factor than the relatively large stage this game was played on.
Finally, I’m gonna chock up L.T.’s postgame complaints about the Pats’ mocking Shawne Merriman’s happy jig to a heat-of-the-moment sort of thing. But considering how hard Merriman hit Brady early in the game, no one should begrudge New England their celebrations. They oughta be thrilled Brady’s still walking.