In what was billed as a battle between quarterbacks, it was LeGarrette Blount who stole the show with the best game of his career to lead the New England Patriots to a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts, while Tom Brady didn’t have to do much and Andrew Luck made too many mistakes to recover from this time.
He threw three interceptions against the Chiefs, and finished the game against the Patriots with four. Not all of them were his fault, with the Dont’a Hightower interception coming as a result of a Stanley Havili drop, but the numbers do not lie in this case: Luck threw 9 interceptions in 16 regular season games. He almost matches that total in two playoff games, finishing his run with 7, and a lot of things to think about going in to next season about how this team expects to perform and execute.
Tom Brady didn’t have much to do. He completed 13-of-25 passes, but was mostly handing off the ball to Blount, who ran for 166 yards, scoring four touchdowns. The 43 points the Patriots scored without throwing a TD pass are the 3rd most point total without a TD pass in NFL playoff history. Blount became the first player in postseason history with at least 125 yards and four touchdowns in a single game. He had three of his four touchdown runs against eight or more defenders in the box, tied for the most such touchdowns in a game this season.
He did have big plays, like his 73-yard run in the fourth quarter as the Colts managed to narrow the lead down to 7 points. Despite all of his mistakes, Luck did throw two touchdown passes and the Colts made the most of a Ryan Allen in the endzone to score a safety. But too many turnovers meant short field situations for the Patriots, who simply made the most of the opportunities given to them by a Colts offense that relied too much on Luck making his magic happen one more time.
Once I get into the open field, they’re going to have to chase me. And if they catch me, they do. And if they don’t, they don’t. They usually don’t. We just had to keep our foot on the gas pedal and make sure that they didn’t do to us what they did to Kansas City.
For once, no one is talking about Tom Brady after a Patriots game, for better or worse. It was Bellichick and his secondary doing a great job of intercepting Andrew Luck, and a game plan that simply ran all over the Colts, who couldn’t really do anything about giving the Patriots so many short-field opportunities to win the game and put it beyond reach.
Andrew Luck is the real thing, but his team still isn’t. This means it’s back to the drawing board for Chuck Pagano and his staff, in order to realize what went wrong in the playoffs and in certain moments this season that prevented the Colts from going further.
For the Patriots, this was another demonstration of their versatility. Brady was an usher, nothing more, and they still dominated a good team almost for the entire game. There are flaws that better teams might have an easier time exposing and taking advantage of, but no one masks these better than Bill Belichick, giving their next rival another headache to be concerned about.