By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — PATRIOTS 43, COLTS 22
PLAYER OF THE GAME
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots
The bruising tailback bulled his way to 166 yards and four touchdowns on 24 punishing carries, outscoring the Indianapolis offense by himself. Blount's rise is symbolic of a New England team that has reinvented itself with a power-running attack as quarterback Tom Brady has lost many of his top receiving targets. Blount's yardage total was the third-highest ever recorded against the Colts in the team's postseason history.
Quarterback Andrew Luck threw four interceptions, and the Colts converted on just six of 15 third-down attempts. Add in a second-quarter drive that stalled at the 3-yard line and resulted in a field goal, and Indianapolis failed in three of its most important keys to the game. Second-year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton managed to get free for four catches and 103 yards, but he was unable to get into the end zone. Luck finished 20-of-41 overall with 331 yards and two scores but ultimately could not keep up with Brady, Blount and the Patriots' scoring machine.
A team that spent the offseason upgrading the defense and emphasizing the need to stop the run surrendered 234 rushing yards in the biggest game of the year. New England's ground game gained the second-most yards against Indianapolis in the franchise's postseason history. The Patriots rushed for six touchdowns as a team, easily winning a game in which Brady did not throw a single scoring pass.
Special teams: B
A botched snap on a New England punt led to the first safety in Colts playoff history. Indianapolis contained dangerous Patriots return man Julian Edelman, limiting him to an average of 7 yards on five punt returns. Punter Pat McAfee averaged 44.6 yards on five punts, and Adam Vinatieri made two field goals to push his playoff record to 51 for his career.