FOXBOROUGH - With Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, and even Jabar Gaffney testing defenses all season, the Jacksonville Jaguars can't be blamed for not paying too much attention to tight end Benjamin Watson.
Quarterback Tom Brady found Watson for two touchdown passes to help the Patriots knock off the Jaguars, 31-20, last night. The touchdown receptions were Watson's only catches, but they tied a Patriots playoff record for most scoring receptions.
Stanley Morgan caught two against Denver Jan. 4, 1987. Larry Garron set the record at Buffalo Dec. 28, 1963.
"It was my chance to make some plays," Watson said. "I'm just glad Tom found me in the end zone. That's what you work all those weeks for, for the chance to come out here and play."
The 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pound Watson caught six touchdown passes during the regular season, but five came in the first five weeks. The last came Nov. 18 when he hauled in a 3-yard score in the third quarter of a 56-10 win over Buffalo. Watson was slowed by an ankle injury in the second half of the season.
Watson's 3-yard catch capped New England's opening drive and tied the score, 7-7, at 5:07 of the first quarter. Watson managed to get just behind strong safety Sammy Knight in the back of the end zone and leaped to grab Brady's pass.
"I didn't even know it was coming to me," Watson said. "I kind of ran a flag route and looked back and everybody was covered. Tom kind of gave me the nod to come back and I just became uncovered and Tom put it right there."
It was Brady's 13th consecutive postseason game with a touchdown pass, tying Dan Marino for second all-time. Brett Favre owns the record (17 games). Brady completed his first 16 passes before his 17th hit Watson's hands and fell to the ground.
"You always think you should have caught everything," Watson said. "So it was my fault. My bad."
Watson had hauled in only one touchdown throw during his previous two postseasons, but it came against the Jaguars, a 63-yarder in an AFC wild-card playoff victory two years ago. Watson led the Patriots with five receptions and 91 receiving yards and a touchdown that day.
Watson atoned for last night's drop with a 9-yard touchdown reception to put New England up, 28-17, with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.
"I think the DB fell down or something," Watson said. "It was actually a play designed to get somebody else open, but you never know who's going to open up. That's why you play every play like it's your last one."
Brady completed 26 of 28 - Welker dropped his other incompletion - for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Welker grabbed that other one too.
"It was the usual," Watson said. "That's what we come to expect from Tom. He's a great leader, a great friend, and a great quarterback, obviously."
Moss finished with only one catch for 14 yards, but Brady found Welker nine times for 54 yards, Faulk five times for 36 yards, Gaffney and Stallworth three times each, Watson and Laurence Maroney twice each, and backup tight end Kyle Brady once.
"People know Ben's a great athlete," Kyle Brady said, "and a great tight end, blocking and catching, but when you have that many people to worry about, like Wes, Randy, Jabar, and Donte', you have to pick your poison. You can't double everybody."
The Patriots will host the AFC Championship game a week from today against the winner of today's San Diego-Indianapolis game.
"It seems like just last week we were in Indy playing that night game [Nov. 4]," Watson said. "It seems like yesterday. We're excited."