Courtesy of Foxborough Patch
The Patriots are back in the AFC Championship Game after a convincing 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colt Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
With the victory over Indianapolis, Bill Belichick collected his 19th playoff win to tie Don Shula (19) for the second-most postseason wins among head coaches, behind only Tom Landry (20) in career postseason wins.
Led by a strong rushing attack from LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots scored six rushing touchdowns against the Colts, tying the second best rushing touchdown performance in NFL postseason history and scoring the most rushing touchdowns in the history of the franchise.
Early in the game, two touchdowns from Blount gave the Patriots a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Blount picked up his third touchdown in the second quarter, extending the lead to 14-7.
With the Patriots holding a 29-22 lead and Indianapolis looking for a game-tying score, the Patriots came up with sacks on consecutive drives to keep Indianapolis from mounting a comeback. First, Jamie Collins sacked Andrew Luck for an 8-yard loss in the third quarter, setting up a third-and-16 that Indianapolis did not convert. Then, on the Colts’ next drive, Joe Vellano sacked Andrew Luck for a 1-yard loss on second down in the fourth quarter, setting up a third-and-10 that Indianapolis again did not convert.
Jamie Collins intercepted Andrew Luck and returned the interception 20 yards to the Colts’ 18-yard line. The pick kept momentum on the Patriots’ side after New England had scored on LeGarrette Blount’s 73-yard touchdown run gave New England a 36-22 lead. The interception was the first of the Patriots rookie’s career and was the third of the game for New England
On defense, Alfonzo Dennard had two interceptions, including one early in the first quarter to set the tone for the Patriots in the game, and one late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Dennard became the seventh Patriot to have two or more interceptions in a playoff game, and trails only Ty Law’s team-playoff-record three interceptions in the 2003 AFC Championship Game. Dennard’s first interception tonight came on the third play of the game, when he picked off Andrew Luck and returned the ball 27 yards to the Colts’ 2-yard line and set up the Patriots’ first touchdown on the next play to give New England a 7-0 lead just 1:19 into the game. Then, with 44 seconds left, Dennard got his second interception to give the Patriots the ball back with the ability to run out the clock and seal the victory.
The Patriots will play in their tenth AFC Championship game next Sunday at 3 p.m. against either the Denver Broncos or San Diego Chargers.
Below are game notes provided by Patriots Media Relations:
BLOUNT SETS TEAM MARK WITH FOUR RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS; SECOND MOST IN NFL PLAYOFF HISTORY
LeGarrette Blount scored four rushing touchdowns, to set a Patriots franchise record for most rushing touchdowns in a game (regular season or playoffs), and tallying the second most rushing touchdowns in a playoff game in NFL history. Blount’s four rushing scores trail only Ricky Watters’ five rushing touchdowns for San Francisco in the playoffs following the 1993 season in the NFL single-season playoff record book.
BLOUNT TIES TEAM POSTSEASON MARK WITH 166 RUSHING YARDS;
HAS SECOND LONGEST RUSH IN TEAM PLAYOFF HISTORY
LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards, tying Curtis Martin for the most rushing yards in a playoff game in Patriots history. Martin also ran for 166 yards on January 5, 1997 against Pittsburgh in a divisional playoff game at Foxboro Stadium. Blount had a 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots a 36-22 lead. The 73-yard run was the second longest run in team playoff history, trailing only Martin’s 78-yard scoring run in the above-referenced game against Pittsburgh.
PATRIOTS TIE TEAM PLAYOFF MARK WITH FOUR INTERCEPTIONS
The Patriots intercepted Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck four times, tying the team record for most interceptions in a playoff game. Alfonzo Dennard began the Patriots’ interception surge with a pick on the third play of the game, returning the ball to the Patriots’ 2-yard line and setting up the first touchdown of the game on the next play. Dont’a Hightower added an interception late in the second quarter for his first career pick. The Patriots defense kept the Colts from mounting a comeback with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, one by Jamie Collins, and then another by Dennard in the final minute to seal the game.
PATRIOTS SCORE 40+ IN THE DIVISIONAL ROUND FOR THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR
The Patriots scored 43 points, the second-highest playoff total in team history, trailing only the team’s playoff record 45 points against Denver on January 14, 2012. New England has now scored 40 or more points in the divisional round in three straight seasons, as the Patriots have advanced to their third straight AFC Championship Game.
PATRIOTS RUSHING ATTACK TOTALS 234 YARDS
The Patriots rushing attack totaled 234 yards, behind LeGarrette Blount’s franchise-record-tying 166 yards and Stevan Ridley’s 52 yards. Shane Vereen added 17 yards. The 234 rushing yards are the second most in franchise playoff history, trailing only the team’s 255 rushing yards in the 1985 AFC Championship Game at Miami.
PATRIOTS IMPROVE TO 7-1 IN DIVISIONAL GAMES AFTER A BYE WEEEK UNDER BELICHICK
The Patriots improved to a 7-1 record in Divisional Playoff game after a Bye week under Bill Belichick.
PATRIOTS PLAY NINTH STRAIGHT HOME PLAYOFF GAME, ONE SHY OF NFL RECORD
The Patriots played their ninth consecutive playoff game at home to extend the second-longest streak of home playoff games in NFL history. If the Chargers win this weekend, New England would host the AFC Championship Game and tie the Dolphins for the most consecutive playoff games at home in league history (10).
PATRIOTS ALL-TIME IN PLAYOFF GAMES
The Patriots have compiled a 25-17 record in their 42 playoff games and their .595 playoff winning percentage is the fifth best in NFL history among teams that have played at least 15 playoff games.
BRADY MOVES UP ON THE POSTSEASON LISTS; FIRST EVER TO REACH 6,000 POSTSEASON PASSING YARDS
Tom Brady added on to his NFL all-time passing record in the postseason and became the first player ever to reach 6,000 passing yards in the postseason. With 198 passing yards against Indianapolis, Brady finished the game with a career total of 6,147 career playoff passing yards. Brady is third all-time on the postseason touchdown list, behind Joe Montana (45) and Brett Favre (44). Brady leads all quarterbacks with 566 postseason completions.
BRADY SET NFL RECORD FOR MOST POSTSEASON STARTS WITH HIS 25TH
Tom Brady made his 25th start in the postseason to set the NFL mark. He was tied with Brett Favre (24) for the most starts by a quarterback in postseason play.
PATRIOTS AT HOME IN THE PLAYOFFS
The Patriots now have a 15-4 (.789) all time record in home playoff games. The Patriots’ .789 winning percentage at home in the postseason ranks second among teams with at least 10 home playoff games.
PATRIOTS UNDEFEATED ON SATURDAY NIGHT AT HOME IN PLAYOFFS
The Patriots improved to 6-0 all-time in Saturday night home playoff games.
WARMEST PATRIOTS HOME PLAYOFF GAMES
The Divisional playoff game against Indianapolis was 57 degrees at kickoff, marking the warmest home playoff game in team history. The previous warmest game the game was the 2012 Divisional playoff game vs. Houston on Jan. 13, 2013 at 51 degree at kickoff.
LEGARRETTE BLOUNT FIRST POSTSEASON CARRRY RESULTS IN A 2-YEAR TOUCHDOWN
RB Legarrette Blount scored on a 2-yard touchdown run on his first ever postseason carry. The Patriots started their first offensive drive at the 2-yard line following an interception by CB Alfonso Dennard’s interception on the third play of the game with a 27-yard return.
BLOUNT SETS RECORD FOR MOST POINTS IN AN AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFF GAME
LeGarrette Blount’s 24 points set a new an NFL record for most points in an AFC Divisional playoff game.
DONT’A HIGHTOWER REGISTERS FIRST NFL INTERCEPTION
LB Dont’a Hightower picked of an Andrew Luck pass with under two minutes to play in the first half to record the first interception of his NFL career.
STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI MAKES FIRST EVER NFL PUNT
K Stephen Gostkowski was forced into action as a punter in the first half after P Ryan Allen was forced out with an injury. His first punt was a 53-yarder.
BRADY COMPLETES EIGHTH 50-YARD PASS IN THE POSTSEASON
Tom Brady completed a 53-yard pass to WR Danny Amendola in the third quarter for his eighth career postseason 50-yard pass.