Brady's 11-1 playoff mark tests Chargers



He'll go up against Philip Rivers who is making his first playoff start.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- If Tom Brady was shaking in his first playoff game, it wasn't from nervousness.
The New England Patriots trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter with the snow flying and the temperature falling. A loss to Oakland and his season was over. So how did the first-year starter feel?
"Cold," he said with a smile Wednesday.
The quarterback won't be shivering Sunday in San Diego, five years after that 16-13 win on Adam Vinatieri's overtime field goal in the final game at Foxboro Stadium.
The forecast calls for sunny skies and a high temperature of 61 degrees, compared to a game-time 25 degrees against the Raiders on Jan. 19, 2002. Brady, 11-1 in the playoffs, will face the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers, who'll make his first postseason start.
"It's his third year, so it's not like he's a rookie," Brady said. "He's 14-2. He's done a lot of great things for them. I'm sure the situation isn't too big for him."
Two-years as backup
Rivers spent two seasons backing up Drew Brees, took over when Brees left for New Orleans as a free agent and was picked for the Pro Bowl ahead of Brady this season.
"There's plenty of young quarterbacks that have done well," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "[Ben] Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl last year. Brady won a Super Bowl. Rivers is a good quarterback. They have a good football team. It's no one-man band out there."
Brady wasn't drafted until the sixth round and was just 24 and in his second season when he became New England's starter after Drew Bledsoe suffered a serious chest injury in the second game of 2001.
Brady threw his first touchdown pass in his third start -- against San Diego -- and led the Patriots from a 10-point deficit with less than four minutes left in regulation to an overtime win and a 2-3 record.
"Good memories of that day and that's kind of when our season really started to improve," he said.
The Patriots won their last six games to finish at 11-5 on the way to the first of their three Super Bowl championships. But they nearly were eliminated in the opening round, a game that brought the phrase "tuck rule" out of the depths of the rule book and into common football parlance.
"Tuck rule" saved day
But New England's hopes seemed shattered on an apparent fumble by Brady. Charles Woodson blitzed and Greg Biekert fell on the ball with 1:43 to go in the fourth quarter. But referee Walt Coleman overturned the call, ruling the play an incompletion.
Vinatieri tied it with a 45-yard field goal through the snowflakes with 27 seconds left, then won it with a 23-yarder in overtime in which Brady went 8-for-8 passing.
The Patriots then won the AFC title game in Pittsburgh 24-17, and the Super Bowl over St. Louis 20-17 on Vinatieri's last-play, 48-yard field goal and Brady's MVP performance.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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