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ROOKIE'S INTs CLINCH PACKERS' TRIP TO SUPER BOWL
From Elias: Sam Shields intercepted two passes in the Packers' 21-14 win at Chicago┐one in the final minute of each half┐to become only the third rookie with two INTs in a conference title game. The others were Everson Walls of the Cowboys against the 49ers (Jan. 1982) and Ricky Manning of the Panthers against the Eagles (Jan. 2004).
WHAT WEIGHS MORE THAN A REFRIGERATOR AND RUNS LONGER?
From Elias: B.J. Raji scored the Packers' final touchdown, rumbling 18 yards after intercepting a pass by Caleb Hanie. Raji, who is listed at 337 pounds, became the heaviest player (based on published team figures) ever to score a touchdown in a postseason game. The previous record was set by William "Refrigerator" Perry of the Bears 25 years ago this week in Super Bowl XX. Perry, who was listed at 318 pounds, scored on a one-yard run.
HANIE RALLIES BEARS WITH 1ST TD PASS OF CAREER
From Elias: Caleb Hanie, who passed for 153 yards and a touchdown during the Bears' fourth-quarter rally, had thrown 14 regular-season passes in three seasons in the NFL. Hanie became only the third quarterback in NFL history to throw his first TD pass in a postseason game. The others were Ron Jaworski of the Los Angeles Rams against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975, and Gary Hogeboom of the Cowboys the NFC Championship Game following the 1982 season.
RUNNER-UP TOPS DIVISION CHAMP FOR CONFERENCE TITLE
From Elias: With Green Bay's victory on Sunday, four of the last seven conference title games played between intradivision rivals, dating back to the 1985 season, were won by the visiting team. In other words, the division champion lost at home to the runner-up. The other second-place teams to win the conference title on the road against their own division champion were the Patriots over the Dolphins (1985 season), the Bills over the Dolphins (1992), and the Titans over the Jaguars (1999).
MENDENHALL EVOKES MEMORIES OF FRANCO
From Elias: Mike Tomlin took a page from an old Chuck Noll playbook, calling on Rashard Mendenhall early and often in the Steelers' 24-19 victory over the Jets. Mendenhall carried the ball 10 times in the first quarter, something no Steelers running back had done in a postseason game in more than 30 years. But Franco Harris did it three times for Noll's teams during the 1970s.
BIG BEN WINS HIS 10TH POSTSEASON GAME
From Elias: Sunday's victory was Ben Roethlisberger's 10th as the starting quarterback in a postseason game, in only his seventh season in the NFL. The only other QBs to reach double-figures in postseason wins by the end of their seventh season were Troy Aikman and Tom Brady.
JETS' LONG FRUITLESS DRIVE WAS ONE FOR THE BOOKS
From Elias: The Jets failed to score on a 17-play, 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter. That was the longest drive (that is, most plays) resulting in no points in a postseason game since the Giants came up empty on a 19-play drive against the Vikings in January 2001. Not to worry, the Giants were winning 41-0 in the NFC title game at the time.
ANTHONY SCORES IN 3'S IN NUGGETS' WIN OVER PACERS
From Elias: Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points, including a career-high six three-point field goals, in the Nuggets' 121-107 win over the Pacers. That was as many three-pointers as Anthony had hit in his previous 21 games combined, dating back to late November. Prior to Sunday's game, Anthony had the third-lowest three-point field-goal percentage in the NBA this season among 162 players with at least 50 shots from beyond the arc (25%).
FLYERS' FRESHMAN BEATS THE CHAMPS
From Elias: The Flyers beat the Blackhawks, 4-1, on Sunday in the only meeting this season of the 2010 Stanley Cup finalists. Sergei Bobrovsky, who earned the win for Philadelphia by stopping 30 of Chicago's 31 shots on goal, is the second rookie goaltender to post a victory against the defending Stanley Cup champion this season. Nashville's Anders Lindback, in the first start of his NHL career, won 3-2 at Chicago on October 13.
GIROUX HELPS OUT ON ALL OF PHILADELPHIA'S GOALS
From Elias: Claude Giroux assisted on all four of the Flyers' goals in their win at Chicago. Giroux is the first NHL player to record at least four assists in a game this season while assisting on every one of his team's goals in that game. The only player to do that last season was the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron in Boston's 4-2 win at St. Louis on Nov. 23, 2009.
KOVALCHUK FINALLY REGAINS HIS SCORING FORM
From Elias: Ilya Kovalchuk, in his 47th game of the season, recorded a personal season high with three points (one goal and two assists) as he led the Devils to a 5-2 win over the Panthers. Kovalchuk scored three points or more in 54 of the 594 regular-season games he played during his eight years with the Thrashers (an average of once every 11 games), and he did it three times in 27 games with New Jersey last season (an average of once every nine games).
ENNIS ...YES, THAT ENNIS ... CONTINUES SCORING SURGE
From Elias: Tyler Ennis, who earned first-star honors with one goal and one assist in the Sabres' win over the Islanders on Sunday, leads Buffalo with eight points in the team's last five games (three goals, five assists). That's as many points as Ennis registered over his previous 24 games (four goals, four assists from Nov. 17 through Jan. 13).
LIGHTNING OVERCOME SLUGGISH START IN ROUT OF THRASHERS
From Elias: The Lightning and Thrashers played a goalless first period, but Tampa Bay's Nate Thompson scored a shorthanded goal 14 seconds into the second period to start the Lightning on their way to a 7-1 win against Atlanta. The seven goals matched the Tampa Bay record for a game in which the Lightning didn't score in the first period. The Lightning won 7-4 at Pittsburgh on November 6, 1999, after trailing 2-0 at the end of the first period. The Blackhawks, in their 7-1 win at Vancouver on November 20, are the only other NHL team to score so many goals in a game in which they did not score in the first 20 minutes this season.