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Manning Shines In AFC Championship Game
From Elias: Peyton Manning passed for 400 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos' 26-16 win over the Patriots. It was Manning's third 400-yard playoff game, but the first in which he didn't throw an interception. In fact, it was only the fifth 400-yard game without an INT in NFL postseason history. The others were by Daryle Lamonica (1968), Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV in Jan. 2000), and Drew Brees twice (Wild Card games following the 2010 and 2011 seasons).
Manning has six 400-yard/0-INT games in the regular season. Drew Brees has seven; no one besides Manning and Brees has more than three.
Denver Scores On 6 Straight Drives
From Elias: Denver punted on its first possession on Sunday and then scored on each of its next six drives (2 TDs, 4 FGs). It was the longest such streak ever recorded in an AFC or NFC Championship Game.
The Broncos had never before scored on more than four consecutive drives in one playoff game, nor had the Patriots ever allowed points on more than four straight drives in one playoff game.
Denver became only the second team in NFL history to punt just once over a span of two consecutive playoff games. The first was another team quarterbacked by Peyton Manning: the 2003 Colts, who played back-to-back playoff games without a punt.
Knighton's Sack Stops Patriots' Key Drive
From Elias: Terrance Knighton's fourth-down sack of Tom Brady late in the third quarter on Sunday was the beginning of the end for the Patriots, who trailed, 20-3, at the time. Brady has been sacked on only one of his last 29 pass plays on fourth down in the regular season.
Broncos Give Nothing Away In Win Over Patriots
From Elias: The Broncos didn't commit a turnover in Sunday's win. That marked the fourth consecutive season in which the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs without forcing a turnover in their loss. Prior to that, New England had recorded at least one takeaway in 17 consecutive playoff games, dating back to January 2002.
Seattle Wins It In The 4th On Turnovers
From Elias: The Seahawks outscored the 49ers, 10-0, in the fourth quarter to post a 23-17 victory in the NFC Championship Game. Late game-winning rallies aren't unusual; over the last 30 seasons, 69 playoff games have been won by teams that trailed in the fourth quarter. But the way Seattle did it was noteworthy. The Seahawks were the first of those 69 winning teams, dating back to 1984, to force three turnovers in the fourth quarter. The last team to do so en route to a fourth-quarter, game-winning rally was the Jets, in a 17-14 victory over the Raiders in January 1983. It's worth noting that the Baltimore Colts also made three fourth-quarter takeaways to win Super Bowl V against the Cowboys in January 1971.
Baldwin's Big Plays Evoke Bad Memories For Niners
From Elias: It was deja vu of the worst sort for the 49ers, as Doug Baldwin caught a pass for 51 yards to set up the Seahawks' first score and returned a kickoff 69 yards to start another Seattle scoring drive. Only three other players in NFL history caught a pass and returned a kickoff for at least 50 yards each in the same playoff game, including Jacoby Jones in Baltimore's Super Bowl victory over San Francisco last season. The others were Elbert Dubenion of the Bills (1963) and Darren Sproles of the Chargers (Jan. 2009).
Kaepernick's Struggles vs Seattle Continue
From Elias: Colin Kaepernick threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions against a team that has accounted for nearly half the INTs that he has thrown in regular-season games. Kaepernick has been intercepted 11 times in the regular season; five came against Seattle.
2 Run-Oriented Teams Battle For NFC Title
From Elias: The NFC Championship Game was only the second playoff game in NFL history between teams whose offenses ranked more than 20 places higher in rushing yards than in passing yards in the regular season: Seattle ranked 4th in rushing (137 yards per game), 26th in passing (202); San Francisco ranked 3rd (138) and 30th (186), respectively.
The only other such game in NFL postseason history was a Wild Card game between the Dolphins and Patriots following the strike-shortened 1982 season. Miami won it, 28-13.
No team whose offense ranked more than 20 places higher in rushing than passing has ever won the Super Bowl. In fact, Seattle will be only the second such team even to reach the Big Game. The first was the Dolphins, who lost, 27-17, to the Redskins in Super Bowl XVII, following that same 1982 season.
Durant's Scoring Surge Continues
From Elias: Kevin Durant scored 30 points in the Thunder's 108-93 win over the Kings. Durant has scored at least 30 points in each of his last seven games, and his total of 268 points during that stretch is rare indeed. The only other active players ever to score that many points over a span of seven games are Carmelo Anthony (last April), Kobe Bryant (most recently in 2007), LeBron James (2006), and Dwyane Wade (2009).
Magic Find The Cure For Their Woes...The Celtics!
From Elias: The Magic snapped their 10-game losing streak with a 93-91 victory over the Celtics. This is hard to believe, but it was Boston's fourth consecutive loss when facing a team that had lost its last 10 games. The Bucks ended a streak of 11 straight losses with a win over the Celtics in November. Charlotte and Cleveland ended losing streaks of 10 games against Boston last season.
Duncan Makes Most Of His Playing Time
From Elias: Tim Duncan scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in just 28 minutes of playing time in the Spurs' 110-82 win over the Bucks. It was the 78th time that Duncan recorded a double-double while playing less than 30 minutes, the highest such total in the NBA over the last 30 seasons. The last player with more sub-30 minute double-doubles than Duncan was Robert Parish (137).
Lakers Stage Another Big Comeback Against Raptors
From Elias: The Lakers rallied from a 50-31 deficit in the second quarter to post a 112-106 victory at Toronto. Los Angeles had lost the last 17 games in which it trailed by as many as 15 points, dating back to last March┐the Lakers' longest such streak since 2006-07. Their last victory after falling behind by at least 15 points was also against Toronto (a 118-116 win at Staples Center on March 8).
Nash Extends His Streak Of Key Goals
From Elias: Rick Nash scored the first two goals in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the Capitals. Nash has scored goals in five of his last eight games, and he's been credited with the winning goal in each of the last four games in which he scored. He's the first Rangers player with a four-game streak of that kind in one season since Tom Poti in 2003-04, and the third NHL player to net the game-winner in each of four consecutive games in which he scored goals this season. The others are the Kings' Tyler Toffoli and the Ducks' Kyle Palmieri.
Barberio Tallies His First 2 Goals
From Elias: Mark Barberio scored the first two goals of his NHL career in the Lightning's 5-3 win over the Hurricanes. The only other player in Lightning history to score his first two NHL goals in the same game was Steven Stamkos (Oct. 30, 2008 vs. Buffalo). Three other players around the league scored their first two NHL goals in the same game this season: Tomas Hertl, Mark Arcobello, and Boone Jenner.
Marchand Scores On Both Sides Of 1st Intermission
From Elias: Brad Marchand scored both goals for the Bruins in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks and he did so within 69 seconds spanning the first (19:51) and second periods (0:50). In the last three seasons, the only other instance of a Bruins player scoring two goals in less than two minutes of scoreboard time was when Marchand himself did on Dec. 19 at Buffalo (two goals in 1:14).
Marchand was the second player to score a goal in the last minute of one period and the first minute of the next period in an NHL game this season. Chicago's Patrick Sharp managed that feat in the Blackhawks' 7-2 win over Colorado on December 27 (19:18 of first period and 0:27 of second period).