By Bryan Stauffer
If you would have told me that the Patriots would blow out the Colts with Tom Brady completing 13 passes for 198 yards and no touchdowns, I likely would have called you something along the lines of “a moron.”
And if you told me LeGarrette Blount would become the first player in NFL history to rush for 125 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game, chances are I would have labeled you as something cruder than that – and for that, I apologize.
I forget that this is the NFL and anything is possible on game day; plus, the latter does not seem as irrational considering only the Vikings had more rushing touchdowns than the Patriots’ 19 this season.
It was Brady’s first playoff game since 2009 where he failed to reach the 200-yard mark; and for the first time since 2004, Brady was on the winning side of a sub-200-yard passing performance.
The rainy conditions were less than ideal and undoubtedly played a role in New England’s run-heavy approach, but even they had to be surprised with how much success they were having on the ground.
Blount carried the load for New England with 24 carries, one less carry than Brady had passing attempts, and averaged a staggering 6.9 yards per carry. He finished with 166 yards on the ground and accounted for all but two of the Patriots’ touchdowns.
Brady’s 25 pass attempts were the fewest he’s had in a playoff game in 10 years, and it is safe to assume that he will be as fresh as possible for next weekend’s AFC Championship.
As little a factor as Brady was for the Patriots, at least on the stat sheet, his counterpart, Andrew Luck, played quite the opposite role in Indy’s self-destruction.
The promising second-year talent threw four interceptions, one of which should have been hauled in by fullback Stanley Havili, but showed flashes of just how good he can and will be on several key touchdown throws.
Much of the blame can be put on the shoulders of Luck, but he simply does not have enough around him on offense to win right now, especially without his top target, Reggie Wayne, who was lost earlier this season to a torn ACL.
It was a learning experience for Luck, but for the Patriots the win carries them to their third consecutive AFC Championship game and fifth in the last eight seasons.
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