Two Patriots were selected to the 2012 Associated Press All-Pro teams: defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and guard Logan Mankins.
This is the first time that Wilfork, now in his ninth season, has been voted to the first team. He received second-team recognition each of the last two years.
Wilfork and Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins were the defensive tackles chosen to the first team; Atkins was named on 42 of 50 ballots, while Wilfork was named on 27.
This is the fifth time in the last six years that Mankins is a first- or second-team All-Pro; he was on the first team in 2010. He was named to the second team this season.
Tom Brady was third in voting for quarterback, behind the Broncos’ Peyton Manning (43 votes) and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (four votes). Brady received three votes.
Rob Gronkowski, who missed five games because of a broken forearm, got the third-most votes among tight ends behind Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez and Dallas’s Jason Witten.
Jerod Mayo received four votes at inside linebacker; Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer, and Devin McCourty each received one vote at their respective positions.
Voices of experience
A number of Patriots — among them receiver Brandon Lloyd, cornerback Aqib Talib, defensive end Trevor Scott, and the nine rookies on the 53-man roster — will be making their playoff debuts on Sunday. Their experienced teammates have been helpful in providing the newcomers a rough idea of what to expect.
“Don’t do anything different,” said cornerback Kyle Arrington, a veteran of five playoff games. “It’s football, just continue to do what we’ve been doing to be successful, that got us to this point.”
Brady has the most playoff experience for the Patriots, appearing in 22 postseason games. Next comes Wilfork (16 games), and receiver Deion Branch (15).
The Texans will be playing just their fourth playoff game in franchise history.
Experienced Patriots say it’s just as important to show how the postseason will likely be different from the regular season than it is to talk about it.
“This is the time for the veteran guys to show them that in practice and in the meeting rooms. We don’t want to wait until game day, that’s sort of too late,” Branch said. “It’s all about getting focused, being in tune right now in the meeting rooms and our walkthroughs, then carrying it over to the practice field. Once the guys see the sense of urgency that the veteran guys are putting out on the football field, the guys that haven’t been a part will just fall right in.”
If the Patriots beat the Texans, it will be the 17th postseason win of Brady’s career — and will make him the NFL’s all-time winningest quarterback in the playoffs.
Brady is tied at 16 with his boyhood idol, Joe Montana.
Asked if he’s aware of the record, Brady said, “With that question I’m aware of it. I’ve been fortunate to play with so many great players and great teams. Football is a team game. I’ve been fortunate to play here and have that opportunity. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Brady is likely focused on one Montana record: most Super Bowl titles as a quarterback. Montana and the Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw have four.