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Notebook: Is This Faulk's Swan Song?
NOTES: End could be near for Faulk
--Veteran running back Kevin Faulk has acknowledged that this could be his final postseason and final stretch of games in the NFL.
The 13th-year running back has had a reduced role this season with younger backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley getting most of the carries.
"As a competitor, it doesn't feel the way I want it to feel," Faulk said, "but that's life. You just to have adjust and move forward."
--The Patriots have compiled a 21-15 record in their 36 playoff games, and their .583 playoff winning percentage is the fourth best in NFL history among teams that have played at least 10 playoff games.
New England has qualified for six Super Bowls (XX, XXXI, XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX and XLII) and one AFL Championship Game (1963).
--Wide receiver Matthew Slater, a special teams ace and Pro Bowl player in 2011, is hoping the Patriots can improve on their pedestrian return game in the playoffs, perhaps utilizing special teams as a wild card.
"We expect more production from our return game," Slater said. "We definitely weren't satisfied with our production this year. We have to be more consistent. We have to learn from what we did, but we still believe in the guys here and the scheme.
"We can't get frustrated (by the regular season). We have a chance to get better in the postseason."
--Since their new facility opened at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Patriots own the NFL's best overall record at home.
The Patriots are 67-13 (.838) at Gillette Stadium in regular-season games and have a 74-15 (.831) record including playoffs.
--Saturday could be another big day for tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had a breakout performance against Denver in the regular season with nine catches for 129 yards and a touchdown.
Hernandez benefitted from the Broncos' game plan of trying to stop tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Wes Welker.
"There were plays called for me. Obviously (the Broncos) focused on Gronk and Wes. That left me with opportunities to make plays," Hernandez said.
--The Patriots won 14 playoff games in the decade from 2000 to 2009, tying the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys for the most playoff victories by any NFL team in a single decade.
--New England has qualified for the playoffs 19 times in its 52-year history.
Thirteen of those playoff berths have come in the 18 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, as opposed to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence.
New England has won 14 division crowns, including nine in the last 11 seasons, and has qualified as a wild-card team on four occasions (1976, 1985, 1994 and 1998). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a strike.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Interceptions by defensive back Kyle Arrington, putting him in a three-way tie for the NFL lead this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've been at this round before, so I'd like to go a little bit further. That's going to be a tough task, and we're going to have to make sure we're putting everything into it as far as preparation and being ready to go on Saturday night." -- Offensive lineman Brian Waters, on postseason football.
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