Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers : Much of the talk in the week leading up to the 49ers’ divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers centered on how Kaepernick would handle his first playoff game in the NFL. After all, Alex Smith had made some big plays in the 2011 postseason, so the decision by head coach Jim Harbaugh to go to Kaepernick would be further scrutinized if the 2011 second-round pick out of Nevada faltered in the playoffs. Things didn’t start well for Kaepernick, whose second pass attempt would be intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Sam Shields. After that, though, No. 7 was sensational. Kaerpnick completed 17-of-31 pass attempts for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Michael Crabtree, while adding 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kaepernick’s 181 rushing yards are a single-game record for a quarterback, breaking the mark previously held by Michael Vick. Joe Flacco, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens : On the opposite end of the playoff experience, Flacco was out to show this weekend that he’s an elite quarterback deserving of a lucrative contract extension this off-season. Flacco came through, out-dueling Peyton Manning in Baltimore’s 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos. Flacco completed 18 of 34 pass attempts for 331 yards and three touchdowns, including connections of 59 and 32 yards to Torrey Smith in the first half and a 70-yard game-tying hookup with Jacoby Jones with less than a minute remaining in regulation to force overtime. Tom Brady, quarterback/Shane Vereen, running back, New England Patriots : What more can be said about Brady, who lost two weapons early – Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski – and still completed 25-of-40 pass attempts for 344 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-28 win over the Houston Texans. With three touchdown passes, Brady now has 41 in his postseason career, trailing only Brett Favre (44) and his idol, Joe Montana (45). Brady is now fourth all-time with 5,629 passing yards in the playoffs. With Woodhead sidelined by a thumb injury, Vereen, a 2011 second-round pick out of Cal who had 400 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage during the regular season, produced 124 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in New England’s win.
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Divisional playoff MVPs: Quarterbacks come through with big performances (Shutdown Corner)