BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl after running all over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.
There will be plenty of time to look ahead to the Seattle Seahawks over the next two weeks, so we’ll take a quick look back at the Patriots’ dominating 45-7 win over the Colts.
Here are the Ups, and just a few Downs, from New England’s eighth AFC Championship victory in franchise history:
Blount Runs Wild Again
The Colts once again had no answer for the New England rush attack. LeGarrette Blount torched them 166 yards and four touchdowns last year in the Divisional Round, and ran for 148 yards and three scores in Sunday’s victory.
Blount now owns two career 100-yard games in the postseason, with both of them coming against the Colts. He also now owns the New England franchise record with seven postseason rushing touchdowns (passing Curtis Martin and Tom Brady).
“We have one more game,” Blount said on WBZ-TV’s Patriots 5th Quarter after the game. “It’s the most important thing in the world. There are not a lot of guys who can say they’ve hoisted that trophy at the end of the season, and I want to be one of them.”
Blount On WBZ-TV’s Patriots 5th Quarter:
Edelman Moves The Chains (And Survives)
The Colts did a good job shutting down Rob Gronkowski for the better part of Sunday, so when Tom Brady needed a first down, he went Julian Edelman’s way. And Edelman didn’t let him down.
Edelman had nine catches for 98 yards, and when Brady needed to move the chains on third down, “Minitron” was there on five different occasions. He also came through with a fourth down conversion for good measure.
There was a little concern when Edelman had to head to the locker room in the first half, and then limped off the field late in the game, but No. 11 should be good to go in two weeks.
Offensive Line Stands Tall
There was a big concern heading into the game regarding the offensive line without rookie center Bryan Stork, who missed the tilt with a knee injury. But they held their own against the Colts, keeping Brady relatively clean while also opening up some big holes for Blount to burst through (and giving New England rushers an extra shove when they needed it).
Left tackle Nate Solder also came through with a 16-yard touchdown grab to start the third quarter, as Bill Belichick went back to those funky formations and eligible receiver plays that got John Harbaugh so worked up last Saturday.
The line looked good without Stork, but hopefully his knee is better for what will be a tough matchup against the Seahawks.
Pats Keep Pressure On Luck
The pass rush was almost non-existent at times against the Ravens in the Divisional Round, but the Patriots kept applying steady pressure on Luck throughout Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
While they didn’t record a sack on Luck, Rob Ninkvovich, Chandler Jones and company constantly got into the quarterback’s face and made him make quick decisions. Ninkovich was a pest from the get-go and recorded two quarterback hits, with the Patriots D finishing with five QB hits as a whole.
The Patriots secondary also did a great job shutting down Luck’s options downfield, and when you mix that with some steady pressure, Luck’s 12-for-33, 126 yards, 2 interception stat line should come as no surprise.
We’ll keep the downs section to a minimum, not wanting to put a damper on an otherwise wonderful evening (mother nature already did enough of that anyways).
But we’ll start with Tom Brady’s interception in the second quarter, because it was a bad pass he forced into double coverage on Rob Gronkowski. Brady has been forcing some throws as of late, and a defense like Seattle will really make him pay for those throws in two weeks.
The Colts turned that interception into their only points of the night.
Shortly after Brady threw his interception, the Patriots had the Colts on their heels deep in their own zone. Facing a 2nd-and-1, Luck went short to tight end Jack Doyle, who was immediately met by Jonathan Casillas and dropped for a five-yard loss.
But Wilfork wanted to get in on the fun, and delivered a late hit (with a bit of an elbow) on Doyle. That led to a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, so instead of the Colts facing a 3rd-and-5 deep in their own territory, they had a 1st-and-10 at the Indy 31.
The Colts marched down to score their only touchdown of the game on that drive.
But it’s hard to complain about much more out of this one, so we’ll stop at that. Enjoy the next two weeks of hype and buildup to Super Bowl XLIX.