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Patriots QB Brady one win from postseason record

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Patriots QB Brady one win from postseason record

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady was just a ``kid'' in his second pro season when he won his first playoff game.

Now a 13-year veteran, the New England Patriots star needs just one more victory to break a tie with Joe Montana for most in the postseason as a starting quarterback.

He'd love to get his 17th on Sunday against the Houston Texans, not to reach the milestone but to advance to the AFC championship game.

So when he was asked on Wednesday if he was aware of the historic significance, he answered: ``With that question, I guess I'm aware of it.''

Football, Brady said, ``is a team game. I've been fortunate to play here and have the opportunity. There's no place I'd rather be.''

He was there for the famous ``Tuck Rule'' game, a snowy 16-13 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders in his playoff debut in 2002 when a ruling that he had lost a fumble was changed, upon replay, to an incomplete pass. The Patriots went on to kick the tying and winning field goals.

He was there for his third postseason win - and first Super Bowl title - two weeks later. Minutes after that 20-17 upset of the St. Louis Rams, he flashed a broad smile while standing with both hands on top of the cap he wore with the bill facing backwards.

``That was some kid back then,'' Brady said. ``You really don't quite understand what has happened or what has been accomplished until you try so many times and you don't get to accomplish those things. It's very hard to win that final game of the year. We've had a chance and lost a few.''

Both were to the New York Giants - 17-14 in the 2007 season and 21-17 last season.

Brady had been a postseason sensation, winning his first 10 games and three Super Bowls in his first five seasons. Since then, he's 6-6 with no championships.

Still, Brady remains the consistent key to a team that earned its third straight playoff bye this season, its 10th in a row with at least 10 wins.

``He's won a lot of regular-season games, won a lot of playoff games,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``What he does on a day-to-day basis, how he performs on the practice field, how he performs in games - whether they're preseason, regular season, postseason, whatever it is - he's pretty consistent. I think you see that during the week, so it shows up on Sunday.''

It was painfully obvious to the Texans (13-4) on Dec. 10 when they came to Gillette Stadium with the NFL's best record. They left with a 42-14 pounding in which Brady had four touchdown passes six minutes into the third quarter.

``I know the score looked like it was a certain way, but there were certain plays that we could have done a better job on,'' he said. ``Hopefully, we can do a better job of (that) this week.''

The Patriots (12-4) have been reminded of that rout constantly this week. And they've constantly downplayed its relevance for Sunday's divisional playoff game.

``Giving us an opportunity to have this game at home, I think that's the important thing about last game,'' Brady said. ``Other than that, this is going to be a whole different game full of our own execution, our ability to try to beat a very good football team that's played well all year.''

Not quite.

The game against the Patriots began a slide of three losses in four games. The last, to the Indianapolis Colts, dropped the Texans from the first to the third spot in the AFC, costing them a first-round bye.

They won their wild-card game, edging the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 last Saturday. But they are still playing below the level they established in winning 11 of their first 12.

Still, Brady talked of the Texans as if they were dominating opponents.

``There's a lot to be concerned about,'' he said. ``They've got a great front, some very experienced players at linebacker, a very athletic secondary. You saw what they did last week - playing at home against Cincinnati there in the first half - was pretty impressive.''

He expects the Texans to make some defensive changes from the previous meeting. But 6-foot-5 J.J. Watt and his ability to jump and knock down passes will still be at defensive end.

So Belichick brought out the racquets again that linemen hold up in practice for him to throw over, Brady said.

``It gets frustrating at times, but I think it's a very good thing that coach does,'' he said. ``It just subliminally gets it in my head of (Watt's) ability and their ability to defend passes at the line of scrimmage, which I'm sure teams try to do every week.

``But they get them every week.''

Watt didn't bat down any the last time he faced Brady.

``So,'' Watt said, ``I need to do more.''

He and his teammates must do a lot more than they did in the last meeting to deny Brady his 17th postseason win. And Brady expects just that.

``The Texans are going to have a few different things, we're going to have a few different things,'' he said. ``It's just going to be a totally different game.''

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NOTES: Belichick said the Patriots won't play conservatively even though one mistake can lose the game and end the season. ``You don't win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it,'' he said. ``You have to go out there and attack.'' ... LB Jerod Mayo isn't letting the romp over Houston breed overconfidence. ``We know the last game could've been a lot closer than what it was. There were plays in the game that just kind of bounced our way,'' he said. ... The Texans are 2-1 all-time in the postseason.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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