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Tom Brady may not have thrown a single touchdown pass, but the New England Patriots are now in their third consecutive AFC Championship contest thanks to six rushing touchdowns in the 43-22 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night.
Brady won his 18th playoff game with only 198 passing yards and a 78.4 passer rating. He completed 13-of-25 and completed several key third-and-long throws throughout this contest.
LeGarrette Blount was the lead rusher of the game with 166 rushing yards and four scores on 24 carries, including a 73-yard rushing score up the middle with 12:07 to go in the contest to put the Patriots up 36-22 after the Patriots forced a punt from the Colts.
Stevan Ridley also had a great game with 14 carries for 52 yards. He scored twice and also made it in on a two-point conversion attempt.
The Patriots defense played solid to begin the game with an interception by Alfonzo Dennard. It was the first of three interceptions for Andrew Luck on the evening.
It put the Patriots at the Indy two-yard line and Blunt pushed his way into the endzone to put New England up 7-0.
Blount would cap off a 10-play drive that lasted 5:03, after a punt from the Colts, with another two-yard tun into the endzone to make it 14-0 with 7:17 to go in the first quarter.
The Colts finally got on the board with a 38-yard strike from Luck to Lavon Brazil to cut the lead in half at 14-7.
In the second quarter, Blount scored for the third time, which tied the Patriots playoff record for a running back, to end a 14-play, 78-yard drive that elapsed 6:28. This put the Patriots up 21-7.
After a 36-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri, Ryan Allen botched a punt near New England’s endzone that went out of bounds for the safety. Allen would hurt his shoulder on the play and Stephen Gostowski would take over the punting duties as the game progressed. The safety cut the lead to 21-12 with 2:18 to go in the half.
Luck would throw an interception with 1:14 to go in the half to Dont’a Hightower as the lead stayed the same at the break.
In the second half, the second-year quarterback showed that he means business with a 8-play drive that led to a 21-yard field goal from Vinatieri to make it 21-15.
The Patriots would take the next ball 88 yards on nine plays in 3:45 as Ridley scored from three yards out. He would convert the two-point rush that also drew an unnecessary roughness penalty from former Patriot Darius Butler to make it 29-15.
The Colts responded with a three-play, 80-yard drive to cut the lead to 29-22 on a 35-yard reception for Brazil with 5:01 in the third quarter.
Blount’s 73-yard dagger was not all the Patriots had left in the tank as Ridley scored again from one yard out after an interception from Jamie Collins put the Patriots at the Indianapolis 18-yard line.
The touchdown made it 43-22 with 11:12 to go and the Colts failed to do much with the ball after that.
New England will either play at home against the San Diego Chargers next week or will play in Denver against the top-seeded Broncos.