NFL: "what to look for" in title games

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 15, 2008



(Ed. note: this is the NFL's "what to look for" media release previewing the 2007 conference championship games. It's verbatim from the NFL.)
 
RETURN ENGAGEMENT:  For the 12th time since 1990 when the NFL went to the 12-team playoff format, teams that met at least once during the regular season will meet in the AFC Championship Game when the San Diego Chargers face the New England Patriots this Sunday.  If New England defeats San Diego, it will mark the eighth time that the team that won the regular-season meeting(s) won the AFC Championship.
AFC Championship Games that were rematches of regular-season meetings since 1990:
 
SEASON
SEASON WINNER
SEASON LOSER
CHAMP. GAME RESULT
1990
Buffalo
L.A. Raiders
Buffalo, 51-3
1992
Buffalo/Miami *
Buffalo/Miami *
Buffalo, 29-10
1993
Kansas City
Buffalo
Buffalo, 30-13
1994
San Diego
Pittsburgh
San Diego, 17-13
1996
New England
Jacksonville
New England, 20-6
1997
Pittsburgh
Denver
Denver, 24-21
1999
Tennessee **
Jacksonville
Tennessee, 33-14
2002
Oakland 
Tennessee
Oakland, 41-24
2003
New England 
Indianapolis
New England, 24-14
2004
Pittsburgh
New England
New England, 41- 27
2006
Indianapolis
New England
Indianapolis, 38-34
2007
New England
San Diego
?????
          * Met twice during season.  Teams split; ** Met twice during season.  Tennessee won both games.    
 
PATS STRIVE TOWARDS PERFECT 10 AT HOMEThe Patriots are 9-0 at Gillette Stadium this season, including their Divisional Playoff victory last week over Jacksonville.  On Sunday, New England can become the 12th team in history to post a 10-0 home record.
 
Of the 11 teams to accomplish the feat, eight won the Super Bowl.  The teams that have gone 10-0 at home in a season: 
 
TEAM
YEAR
SUPER BOWL RESULT
Pittsburgh Steelers
1979
Defeated Los Angeles Rams, 31-19
Chicago Bears
1985
Defeated New England, 46-10
New York Giants
1986
Defeated Denver, 39-20
Cincinnati Bengals
1988
Lost to San Francisco, 20-16
Buffalo Bills
1990
Lost to New York Giants, 20-19
Green Bay Packers
1996
Defeated New England, 35-21
Denver Broncos
1998
Defeated Atlanta, 34-19
St. Louis Rams
1999
Defeated Tennessee, 23-16
New England Patriots
2003
Defeated Carolina, 32-29
Seattle Seahawks
2005
Lost to Pittsburgh, 21-10
Indianapolis Colts
2006
Defeated Chicago, 29-17
 
WHAT A COMBINATION!:  The New England Patriots (17-0) and San Diego Chargers (13-5) have combined for 30 wins this year, including playoffs.  That total is tied for the second-most combined victories in an AFC Championship Game.
 
The most combined victories of AFC Championship teams:
 
SEASON
TEAMS
WINS
2004
Pittsburgh (16), New England (15)    
31
2007
New England (17), San Diego (13)
30
1999
Tennessee (15), Jacksonville (15)       
30
2003
New England (15), Indianapolis (14)
29
1998
Denver (15), NY Jets (13)         
28
2006
Indianapolis (14), New England (14)
28
 
Six games tied                  
27
 
SAN DIEGO MOVES UP IN AFC/AFLThe Chargers will make their ninth AFC/AFL championship game appearance Sunday.  It will mark the third most in AFC/AFL history. Only Oakland (14) and Pittsburgh (13) have earned more such berths than San Diego.
 
The Chargers played in five AFL Championship Games from 1960-65 and have earned AFC Championship Game berths four times in 1980-81, 1994 and this season.
 
Teams with the most AFC/AFL championship game appearances:
 
TEAM
GAMES
RECORD
Oakland Raiders
14
5-9
 
Pittsburgh Steelers
13
6-7
 
San Diego Chargers
9*
2-6
 
Buffalo Bills
8
6-2
 
Denver Broncos
8
6-2
 
Tennessee Titans
8
3-5
 
New England Patriots
8*
5-2
 
                                              *Includes Sunday's game
 
TOM MOVING UP IN CONSECUTIVE GAMES:  Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY has thrown a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive playoff games dating back to Super Bowl XXXVI in 2001.  The streak ties him with DAN MARINO for second place all-time in the category behind the Green Bay Packers' BRETT FAVRE.  Favre and the Packers play host to the New York Giants this Sunday.
 
The top five playoff streaks of consecutive games with a touchdown pass: 
 
PLAYERS
TEAM(S)
YEARS
GAMES
Brett Favre
Green Bay
1995-07
17
Tom Brady
New England
2001-07
13
Dan Marino
Miami
1983-95
13
Ken Stabler
Oakland
1973-77
10
Joe Montana
S.F.-K.C.
1988-93
10
 
PATRIOTS BIG IN THE BIG GAMENew England is 5-1 in its Championship Game appearances, the highest winning percentage (.833) of AFC teams (minimum five appearances).  The Patriots have a 2-0 record at home in the game.
 
The top winning percentages in AFC Championship Games (minimum five appearances): 
 
TEAM
RECORD
WINNING PERCENTAGE
New England Patriots
5-1
.833
 
Buffalo Bills
4-1
.800
 
Denver Broncos
6-2
.750
 
Miami Dolphins
5-2
.714
 
Pittsburgh Steelers
6-7
.462
 
Indianapolis Colts
2-3
.400
 
 
AFC TROPHY PRESENTATIONThe LAMAR HUNT TROPHY will be presented to the AFC Championship Game winner after the game.
 
The late Hunt, the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and American Football League, helped professional football attain its stature as America's No. 1 sport.  In the 10-year history of the AFL, his team posted the most wins (87) and earned berths in two of the first four Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl IV. 
 
In 1972, Hunt became the first person from the AFL to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 
 
WHAT TO LOOK FORNFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
 
ROAD WARRIORSAs the New York Giants prepare for their third consecutive road playoff game in Sunday's NFC Championship at Lambeau Field, they are aiming for their 10th consecutive win away from Giants Stadium.
 
New York's 9-1 road record (.900) this season includes a team-record nine consecutive road victories.  The 2007 Giants have joined the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only teams in history to win nine road games in a single season.  New York is the only team to win nine straight on the road in one year. 
 
The 2005 Steelers won six road games during the regular season and three more in the playoffs en route to a victory in Super Bowl XL.
 
A look back at the Giants' 2007 road schedule:
 
GAME
RESULT
GAME HIGHLIGHTS
9/9/07 at Dallas
L 45-35
QB Eli Manning throws for 312 yards and four TDs in Giants' only road loss.
9/23/07 at Washington
W 24-17
Giants outscore Redskins 21-0 in second half for comeback victory.
10/15/07 at Atlanta
W 31-10
Manning throws for 303 yards and two touchdowns in MNF win.
10/28/07 at Miami *
W 13-10
RB Brandon Jacobs has then career-high 131 rushing yards; Giants win sixth game in row.
11/18/07 at Detroit
W 16-10
DE Michael Strahan has 3.0 sacks; Giants intercept QB Jon Kitna three times.
12/2/07 at Chicago
W 21-16
Giants score two TDs in final 5:21 for comeback victory.
12/9/07 at Philadelphia
W 16-13
WR Plaxico Burress catches seven passes for 136 yards and one TD; K Lawrence Tynes kicks three field goals.
12/12/07 at Buffalo
W 38-21
Giants rush for 291 yards (Ahmad Bradshaw, 151; Jacobs, 145) and three TDs.
1/6/08 at Tampa Bay
W 24-14
Jacobs scores two TDs and defense forces three turnovers; Giants win first road playoff game since 1990.
1/13/08 at Dallas
W 21-17
Manning has career-high QB rating of 132.4 while throwing two TDs and zero INTs.
1/20/08 at Green Bay
??
??
* Game played at Wembley Stadium in London, England
 
-- NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME --
 
FAVRE-ULOUS:  Packers quarterback BRETT FAVRE threw three touchdown passes in Green Bay's Divisional Playoff victory over Seattle last weekend, his 13th career playoff game with multiple touchdown passes.
 
With a multi-TD game this Sunday against the Giants, Favre would tie Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback JOE MONTANA with 14 such postseason games.
 
Favre now has 37 career postseason touchdown passes, which is second only to Montana's 45 career playoff TDs.
 
The quarterbacks with the most career multiple-TD pass games in the playoffs:
 
PLAYER
PLAYOFF GAMES
WITH 2+ TD PASSES
Joe Montana
14
Brett Favre
13
Terry Bradshaw
10
Dan Marino
10
Troy Aikman
8
 

 
GRANT'S GREAT PLAYOFF START:  Packers running back RYAN GRANT will start his second playoff game on Sunday after rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns in his first postseason contest in last Saturday's home win over the Seahawks.
 
His 201 yards were the second most of an NFL player in his first playoff game.  Only Miami running back LAMAR SMITH had more yards in his first postseason outing, totaling 209 yards against Indianapolis in a 2000 Wild Card contest.
 
Grant, who was a member of the Giants' practice squad until he was traded to Green Bay before the season, also became the first player in history with more than 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a playoff game.
 
With 78 rushing yards on Sunday, Grant can post the most such yards by a player in his first two career playoff games.  Dallas running back DUANE THOMAS owns that distinction, with 278 yards in his first two postseason contests.
 
The running backs with the most combined rushing yards in their first two playoff games:
 
PLAYER
RUSHING YARDS
Duane Thomas
278
Terrell Davis
275
Eddie George
268
Fred Taylor
248
Barry Foster
237
 
STRAHAN'S SACKS: New York Giants defensive end MICHAEL STRAHAN enters Sunday's game with 8.5 sacks in his eight career playoff games.
 
If Strahan can post at least 1.5 sacks against the Packers in the NFC Championship, he would become only the ninth player in history with 10 or more career playoff sacks and would do so in the second-fewest games.  RICHARD DENT of the Chicago Bears recorded his 10th sack in his seventh playoff game.
 
Fewest amount of playoff games to reach double-digit postseason sacks:
 
PLAYER
GAMES
Richard Dent
7
Willie McGinest
12
Trace Armstrong
13
Tony Tolbert
13
Charles Mann
14
Bruce Smith
14
 
THE 600 CLUBWhen the Giants travel to face the Packers, it will be the first playoff meeting between two NFL franchises with 600 regular-season victories apiece.
 
Green Bay's 637 victories and New York's 606 wins rank second and third, respectively, on the NFL's all-time regular-season win list, trailing only the Chicago Bears (677).
 
This will be the first playoff meeting between the two clubs since the 1962 NFL Championship game, when the Packers won their second consecutive league title by a 16-7 margin.
 
-- NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME --
 
NFC TROPHY PRESENTATIONThe winner of the NFC Championship Game will be presented with the GEORGE HALAS TROPHY after the game. 
 
Halas, the late owner of the Chicago Bears and a founder of the NFL, is the second-winningest coach in history (324-151-31) behind DON SHULA (347-173-6).  He won six NFL championships with the Bears and is a charter enshrinee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
 

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