After promising start, Redskins' year skids off track

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After promising start, Redskins' year skids off track

FOXBORO - Back in September, it seemed like this might be the Redskins' year. They won their first two over the Giants and Arizona. Then, after a narrow loss at Dallas, they won on the road at St. Louis. Could Mike Shanahan find love and happiness in post-Haynesworth D.C.?No.It all blew up on them. Six straight losses from October 16 through November 20 removed any trace of optimism. Even their recent win - a 23-17 triumph at Seattle - was quickly undone by a home loss last Sunday to the Jets and the suspensions of two of their best players - tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams. Washington is now 4-8 and slogging through another hopeless December. They haven't made the playoffs since 2007 when Joe Gibbs was in charge. They've had six winning seasons since 1992. And in that 20-season span, they reached 10 wins just twice. The Redskins are quietly one of the league's most hapless organizations. This season, they are tied for last in the league in turnover differential (-13) and have the league's second-worst giveaway total (28). They are second-to-last in the league in rushing which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have Rex Grossman (69.8 QB rating, 15 picks, 57.9 completion percentage) commanding their passing attack. Add to the mix that Grossman is now without Davis, his No. 1 target by a wide margin (59 catches, 796 yards) and that his No. 2 is aging wideout Jabar Gaffney and you can see that things may be bleak for Washington offensively this week. Just as they've been bleak since early October.

A record-setting day for Tom Brady

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A record-setting day for Tom Brady

There was no postseason clunker for Tom Brady Sunday. In fact, his performance Sunday was one of the best of his NFL record 24 playoff wins. 

PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9

Brady completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. His passing yard total is a Patriots postseason record. 

No. 12’s dominance helped Chris Hogan set a Patriots postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine catches. Two of his grabs went for touchdowns, including a 39-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker in the second quarter. 

The previous Pats' postseason record was held by Deion Branch, who had 153 receiving yards in the Patriots' divisional round loss to the Broncos in the 2005 season.

Hogan’s performance ranks tied for 17th all-time in terms of receiving yards in a postseason game. The record is still safely held by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who had 240 receiving yards on Jan. 2, 1999 in a loss to the Dolphins. 

Hogan wasn’t the only Pats receiver to finish with gaudy numbers. Julian Edelman had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. 

Game notes: Patriots 36, Steelers 17

Game notes: Patriots 36, Steelers 17

FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 36-17 victory over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game:

PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9

-- The Patriots are headed to their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. The Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers have each been to eight.

-- The Patriots are now 9-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 6-1 in games played in Foxboro and 5-1 at Gillette Stadium.

-- The Patriots are now 3-0 against the Steelers in AFC Championship Games, and 4-1 overall against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

-- The Patriots are 31-19 in postseason games, including 20-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 17-3 at Gillette).

-- The Patriots won their 31st postseason game tonight, moving them past the 49ers into fourth place on the list of all-time playoff victories in NFL history. They trail the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).

 -- The Patriots' .620 winning percentage (31-19) in postseason games is now second-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652). The Packers' loss today drops them to third (34-22, .607).

-- The Patriots have now won eight conference championships with Robert Kraft as owner, setting an NFL for most conference titles in the Super Bowl. Kraft had been tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.

-- Bill Belichick is now 25-10 in postseason games as a head coach and is in a tie with Bill Walsh (10-4) for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.

-- Belichick is advancing to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, most in NFL history. He had been tied with Don Shula at six. Belichick's Super Bowl record is 4-2, Shula's is 2-4.

-- Tom Brady had his ninth three-touchdown-pass postseason game, tying Joe Montana for the NFL record.

-- Stephen Gostkowski, who entered the game with 142 career postseason points, scored 12 points today and moved past Gary Anderson into third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.