FOXBORO (CBS) — It didn’t take too much heavy lifting, but Tom Brady added to his record for postseason victories by a quarterback on Saturday night.
The 43-22 win was Brady’s 18th postseason victory, putting him two ahead of Joe Montana for most all time. Two of Montana’s playoff wins came with the Chiefs, putting Brady four wins above Montana, John Elway and Terry Bradshaw for most playoff victories with the same team.
Brady did it on Saturday night despite not throwing a touchdown. He ran an efficient game and checked into running plays, allowing LeGarrette Blount (166 yards, four touchdowns) and Stevan Ridley (52 yards, 2 TDs) to do much of the dirty work.
Brady completed 13 of his 25 passes for 198 yards, becoming the first quarterback to surpass 6,000 postseason passing yards. It was just the second time since 2004 that Brady’s gone without a touchdown in a playoff game, the other instance coming two years ago in a win over Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game. Brady threw for no touchdowns in the divisional round in 2001 (though he ran for one) and no touchdowns the following week, when he left the championship game against Pittsburgh early due to a leg injury.
This time around though, there was no injury blocking the way. There was simply a running back lined up behind the quarterback who was mostly unstoppable.
“That was amazing,” Brady said of the running game. “We keep handing it off and those guys just run so hard and do such a great job running and finding the holes where they can just slice through there and gain as many yards as they can. It was pretty cool.”
Brady, who advances to the AFC Championship Game for the eighth time of his career, didn’t seem to be bothered by the lack of statistics under his name in the final box score.
“It was good. We keep playing like that, the way our defense is getting the ball for us, and really what we’ve done the last three or four weeks, the running game has just been awesome. It’s helped everything out,” Brady said. “And it does, it makes it easy when you hand it off and it goes 70 yards for a touchdown. That’s a great feeling and great way to score. Hopefully we keep doing it. Hopefully we can do it next week, too.”
The quarterback with 14 years of NFL experience also had a first on Saturday night, as he was thrust into holding duties for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, after punter Ryan Allen left the game due to a shoulder injury. Brady successfully held on two PATs by Gostkowski, but the team opted to punt instead of attempt a field goal late in the fourth with the game in hand.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done that. I was happy to help the team. Maybe I’ll try renegotiating my contract or something for doing more work,” Brady joked. ” I think [the last time I held] was when I played in the Orange Bowl 14 or 15 years ago. I don’t even do it in practice. They said, ‘Get in there and do it,’ and I said, ‘What do I say?’ But we figured it out.”
Gostkowski, who had to fill in for Allen as the punter, said he had only worked with Brady in the kicking game “once in a blue moon.”
“Every once in a while [at practice], Bill [Belichick] will say, ‘Mesko’s out’ or ‘Allen’s out,’ and he’ll say, ‘Tom, get in there and hold one,” Gostkowski said. “It’s definitely something that has been covered before, but it’s not something you work on every week.”
When Brady did pass, he was accurate, connecting with Danny Amendola for a 53-yard bomb off a play-action fake in the third quarter and connecting with Julian Edelman six times for 84 yards. Edelman dismissed the notion that the low statistical output meant that Brady didn’t have to do much in the victory.
“Tom did a lot. [Saying Brady didn’t do much is] very false,” Edelman said. “He puts us in the plays and he gets us right. A lot of people don’t understand that when you have a quarterback who can go out there and put you in the right play every time, good things are going to happen. Sometimes [the opponent] is not in running situations and we have a quarterback that can change the play on the spot and execute. So I would say that’s a little false.”
Still, while nobody would question Brady’s importance to the Patriots, even some of his teammates admitted they didn’t know it was possible to win without a touchdown pass from the QB.
“If you would have told me before the game,” said Blount. “I would not have believed it at all.”