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Patriots players of the week: Divisional round

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By Kevin Fishbain

The Patriots' offensive, defensive and special-teams players of the game from their divisional-round win over the Broncos:

Offense: QB Tom Brady

It took less than two minutes for Brady to lead the offense downfield for the game's first points, and he showed just how explosive the Patriots' offense can be. In a record-setting performance, Brady completed 26-of-34 passes for 363 yards and six touchdowns. He made one bad throw, and it was an interception, but Brady finished with a passer rating of 137.6. His O-line gets a lot of credit — Brady was never sacked, and TE Rob Gronkowski had 10 catches for 145 yards and three TDs.

Defense: OLB Rob Ninkovich

It was an all-around sensational performance by the Patriots' front seven, and each starter merits mention, but Ninkovich gets the nod. Ninkovich's pressure and edge-setting throughout the game helped the Patriots bottle up Denver's run game, and it's even more impressive considering the fact that Ninkovich struggled in Week 15 against Denver. He finished with five tackles, 1½ sacks, two QB hits and a forced fumble.

Special teams: P Zoltan Mesko

Mesko had only two punts, but they both landed inside the 20-yard line and Broncos WR Eddie Royal was unable to record a punt return. His two punts pinned Denver at their 11-yard line and the five-yard line. Credit should also be given to Brady, who boomed a 48-yard punt in the fourth quarter.

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