Blount rushes to Patriots record in playoff debut

Blount rushes to Patriots record in playoff debut
January 12, 2014, 1:15 am
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FOXBORO -- When LeGarrette Blount finished a 73-yard sprint for his fourth touchdown in the fourth quarter of New England's Divisional Round win over the Colts on Saturday, he stopped as soon as he crossed the goal line and set the ball on the ground emphatically, dotting the exclamation point on his record-setting night.

Blount took 24 carries for 166 yards and four touchdowns -- a Patriots single-game record -- as the featured runner in New England's romp over the Colts to punch their ticket to the AFC Championship game, 43-22.

Thanks to big blocks from Michael Hoomanawanui and Logan Mankins, Blount went untouched on his final score. He even took a quick peek of himself running free on the Gillette Stadium video board.

"I didn't look at the big screen 'til I got free," Blount said after. "I looked at it to see if anyone was close to catching me. They weren't. The rest is history."

The Patriots believed they could out-physical a Colts defense that was ranked 25th in the NFL against the run during the regular season, and they did just that. Mankins, playing on an ankle injury suffered in Week 17, and the rest of New England's offensive line imposed their will on Indy's 3-4 scheme.

Blount took advantage. He ran for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter behind fullback James Develin. He followed the left side of the line from two yards out for his second score of the game to make it 14-0. Then in the second quarter he hammered home a third score when he jumped head-first over the Patriots offensive line to put them up, 21-7.

Then came the game-breaker in the fourth.

"He's done great for us this year," Mankins said. "He's a great teammate. He grabs another gear from somewhere . . . When he gets moving, you know none of those corners or safeties wants to tackle him. It's fun to watch him go."

The win over the Colts was Blount's first playoff game of his career. After a turbulent three seasons with the Buccaneers, he was traded to the Patriots for kick returner Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick in the offseason. He landed in New England in part because his former Bucs teammate and currentAqib Talib gave a positive review on Blount to Bill Belichick.

Belichick gave Blount a pretty good review himself Saturday night after watching him run all over the Colts.

"I think he’s got a good set of skills to run the ball," Belichick said. "He’s got that combination of size, power and quickness and speed. He’s not a fullback. He’s not a fullback, he’s more than that. He’s not a scat back either. He’s got power. He can run hard, he can make guys miss and he can go the distance. He’s made some big runs for us, going back to the Atlanta game and we’ve seen the last couple weeks . . . kickoff returns. He’s an explosive player."

Belichick had a laugh with reporters after his team's Week 17 win over the Bills -- in which Blount bolted through the rain for 189 yards and two scores -- when he credited Talib as an assistant to the team's pro personnel department for giving the Patriots a good scouting report on Blount.

Asked if he deserved a raise for his find now that Blount has put together back-to-back big games, Talib laughed.

"Hey man, hey, maybe you should go tell [Belichick] that," Talib said. "If it worked like that, that would be great."

Talib explained he was proud of his friend Blount, who lived with Talib soon after joining the Patriots and before getting a place of his own in the area.

"Ain't no better way to start than that," Talib said of Blount's playoff debut. "I'm happy for him, man. We gonna celebrate tonight."
 
And with good reason. Blount came in to Patriots camp as almost an afterthought in the Patriots offense, a cast-off from Tampa who had been given what appeared to be his last chance to make it in the league.

"It feels amazing to know they have enough confidence in me to go out and close the game, to go out there and do the four-minute offense, or go out there and do whatever they need me to do," Blount said. "It feels good to know they got that much confidence in me."