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NFL

Brady, Vreen lead Patriots over Texans

| Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady idolized Joe Montana as a kid in the Bay Area. Now, he's surpassed his hero for postseason wins.

Brady got his 17th, the most for any quarterback, in New England's 41-28 AFC divisional victory over Houston on Sunday. If Brady can lead the Patriots past Baltimore in next weekend's conference title game, then win the Super Bowl, he'll equal the 49ers' Hall of Famer for NFL championships.

Brady was missing some key helpers, but got the usual outstanding performance from Wes Welker. The AFC's top receiver with 118 catches this season, Welker looked like he might reach that total against Houston's befuddled defense. He caught six in the first half for 120 yards, including a 47-yarder, and wound up with eight for 131.

And the AFC East champion Patriots got more than anyone could have predicted from third-string running back Vereen, who scored their first two TDs on a 1-yard run and an 8-yard pass. He capped his biggest pro performance with an over-the-shoulder 33-yard catch early in the fourth period.

“I hope I am around for a few more years,” the 35-year-old Brady said. “I love playing, I love competing ...”

The boost from Vereen offset the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski (arm) and RB Danny Woodhead (thumb) in the first quarter.

“Shane had a great game, just a huge growing up moment for him, very special,” Brady said. “There were a lot of guys who made a lot of plays.”

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