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Patriots throttle Jaguars as champs begin title defense

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Here's the chilling truth for the rest
of the NFL: The New England Patriots look like champions again.

And they have no fear of hitting the road for the rest of the
postseason.

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, Willie McGinest broke
two records for sacks and the Patriots set an NFL mark with 10
straight postseason victories by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars
28-3 on Saturday night.

"It's a great accomplishment," McGinest said. "We're not
downplaying it, but they are not passing out any trophies tonight.
We've got a long way to go."

Pursuing an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl title, New
England battered the overmatched Jags. Brady, who improved to 10-0
in the postseason, matched his playoff career high for TD passes,
and McGinest set NFL postseason records with 4½ sacks and 16 for
his career.

Next, the Patriots go to either Denver on Saturday night or
Indianapolis the following day, depending on the outcome of
Sunday's Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game.

"We're going to keep fighting, I know we will keep fighting,"
Brady said. "We'll get ready to play the toughest game of the
year.

"Now we are even with the best teams in the league, Indy and
Denver."

New England's milestone surpassed the nine straight playoff
victories by Green Bay in the 1960s. The Patriots (11-6) last lost
a playoff game in 1999, to the Jaguars. Since Bill Belichick became
coach in 2000, they have won three Super Bowls in four seasons, but
never played in the wild-card round until now.

"At this point in time, you win or go home. We're not ready to
go home," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said.

McGinest surpassed Bruce Smith's record for postseason sacks,
getting 1½ in the waning moments.

"In the company of guys like Bruce Smith and Reggie White, it's
definitely a compliment," he said. "I'm just humbled to be in the
same category with those guys."

McGinest and the rest of the defense, even without co-Comeback
Player of the Year Tedy Bruschi, who was in uniform but didn't play
because of a calf injury, kept Jacksonville from mounting much of a
challenge. The Jaguars (12-5) looked like a team making its first
postseason appearance since 1999, and one that faced an easy
schedule in compiling such a strong record.

"You've got to turn your game up more, especially against the
defending champs," linebacker Mike Peterson said.

While Brady had touchdown throws of 11 yards to Troy Brown, 3 to
David Givens and 63 to Ben Watson -- the tight end did all the work
on that one -- the defense never let Jacksonville's offense breathe.
Cornerback Asante Samuel was particularly active with a 73-yard
interception return early in the fourth quarter that clinched it,
and New England finished with six sacks overall.

Although they sputtered early, the Patriots were plenty sharp in
dominating the second half. They haven't lost a playoff game at
home since 1978.

The first half was marked by tenacious defense on both sides.
The Jaguars had four sacks and yielded only 126 yards. New England
got two sacks and allowed 115 yards.

Jacksonville didn't get a first down until about 11 minutes
remained in the second quarter. Then Eugene Wilson laid a vicious
hit on backup running back Alvin Pearman, forcing a fumble. Seymour
recovered at the New England 40.

The Patriots did nothing with the takeaway, however, and the
Jaguars finally got something going, a 12-play, 56-yard drive to
set up Josh Scobee's 36-yard field goal.

New England should have gotten seven more points at the end of
the half, but Deion Branch, wide open inside the Jacksonville 10,
dropped Brady's long pass.

The Patriots also were forced to use Brown as a defensive back
in passing situations, a ploy that worked well last season, but
rarely was tried in 2005. Not surprisingly, he performed well in
his part-time job.

"You never know what will happen on this team, so you have to
be ready," Brown said.

Givens, who was wide open after a superb play fake by Brady, has
a TD catch in six straight playoff games, two short of John
Stallworth's NFL mark.

Watson broke three tackles after taking a short pass on
third-and-13, making it 21-3. Six plays later, Samuel stepped in
front of Reggie Williams, stole Byron Leftwich's pass and motored
down the left sideline to score.

"That was a great effort by Benjamin to break those tackles,"
Belichick said, "and make a big play out of what probably
should've been a third-down stop."

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio called it a critical play.

"All of a sudden, instead of us having an opportunity to keep
it close, it got blown open right there," Del Rio said.

Leftwich, in his first action since breaking his left ankle on
Nov. 27, looked rusty and indecisive. New England's defense had
much to do with that, of course, and he left midway through the
fourth quarter.

By then, the Patriots had topped Vince Lombardi's Packers and
could start thinking about literally hitting the road to the Super
Bowl.

Game notes
Brady finished 15-of-27 for 201 yards. ... Leftwich was
18-for-31 for 179 yards. ... Belichick is 11-1 in the postseason as
a head coach, the best record in NFL history. ... Jacksonville is
0-4 in Foxborough.