Blount leads Patriots to 43-22 win over Colts

Blount leads Patriots to 43-22 win over Colts
January 11, 2014, 11:30 pm
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FOXBORO -- With the wind howling and the rain pounding all day and into the night, everyone knew Gillette Stadium would be no passer's paradise Saturday night. So Tom Brady didn't even try.

He didn't have to. Not with LeGarrette Blount behind him.

Blount sliced the Patriots' postseason record book to ribbons with a 166-rushing-yards, 4-rushing-touchdown performance that carried the Pats to a 43-22 victory over the Colts and into their third consecutive AFC Championship Game. They will face the winner of Sunday's Broncos-Chargers game for the AFC title next week, at Foxboro if San Diego wins or at Denver if the Broncos prevail.

Brady only attempted 25 passes, and completed just 13 of them, for 198 yards. On the other hand, the Pats ran the ball 46 times (including Brady's kneeldown in the victory formation at the end of the game) for 234 yards and six touchdowns.

"That was amazing," Brady said of the Pats' run game. "We keep handing it off and those guys just run so hard and do such a great job running and finding the holes where they can just slice through there and gain as many yards as they can.

"It was pretty cool."

Blount scored on three two-yard runs in the first half, then, with the Pats holding a tenuous 29-22 lead in the fourth quarter, burst through the right side of the line and rambled 73 yards into the end zone, where he placed the ball gently on the ground made soggy by a game-long rain.

On the next series, Luck threw his third interception of the game -- he would finish with four -- and the Patriots capitalized with Stevan Ridley's second touchdown run, a one-yarder that finished the scoring with 11:12 left. 

Luck -- who threw for 331 yards on 20 completions in 41 attempts -- threw his first pick on the Colts' third play from scrimmage, a short pass for LaVon Brazill that Alfonzo Dennard got his hands on and snatched from the receiver. Dennard ran down the right sideline before stepping out of bounds at the 2. Blount went off left tackle and into the end zone to give New England a 7-0 lead 1:19 into the game.

Blount scored on another two-yard run to cap the Patriots' second drive, putting New England up 14-0 midway through the opening quarter. It marked the third straight game that Blount has run for at least two touchdowns.

The Colts bounced back with an impressive drive of their own, capped by Brazill's 38-yard touchdown catch in stride over the hands of Dennard to cut it to 14-7 with 4:35 left in the first quarter. Luck completed third-down passes of nine yards to Coby Fleener on third-and-3, and 22 yards to Griff Whalen to set up the score. Ex-Patriot hero Adam Vinatieri set an NFL record with his 59th career playoff extra point after Brazill's score.

Blount got his third TD run, a two-yard dive, early in the second quarter, capping a 14-play, 75-yard drive that put the Patriots ahead 21-7. Vinatieri's 36-yard field goal with 5:35 left before halftime cut it to 21-10.

The Colts made it 21-12 on a safety with 2:12 remaining in the second quarter on a bizarre play that cost the Patriots the services of punter Ryan Allen. Danny Aiken's snap floated way over Allen's head on fourth-and-2 from the Patriots 49. Allen chased the ball and recovered it near the 3, but had it knocked out of his hands by Andy Studebaker. The Colts' Jeris Pendleton went for the loose ball, but inadvertently slapped it out of the end zone. Officials ruled the play a safety, with fumbles on both Aiken and Allen. Allen was taken to the locker room after the play because of a shoulder injury and never returned. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was forced into punting duties, and Brady held on extra-point attempts.

Vinatieri kicked a 21-yard field goal on Indianapolis' first possession of the second half to make it 21-15, but the Colts could have had more. Luck completed consecutive passes of 40 yards to T.Y. Hilton and 16 to Fleener to get the ball to the 4, but New England made a nice defensive stand to keep Indianapolis out of the end zone.

Brady came out on the Patriots' next offensive play and connected with a wide-open Danny Amendola for 53 yards. New England moved down the field with an efficient nine-play, 88-yard drive that was capped by Ridley pushing his way into the end zone. He then made it a two-touchdown game, at 29-15, with a two-point conversion.

But as he did last week against Kansas City, Luck showed he can put up points in a hurry, too. First, he completed a 46-yard pass to Hilton and then hit Brazill for a 35-yard touchdown strike, his second of the game, with 5:01 left in the third quarter to make it 29-22.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.