The New England Patriots are headed to yet another AFC Championship Game after Tom Brady, LeGarrette Blount and company eased to a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
Blount, who set a postseason franchise record with four rushing touchdowns, got things started early with two two-yard touchdown runs, giving New England an early 14-0 lead. The Colts responded with a 38-yard Andrew Luck touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill, but Blount scored on another two-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to make the score 21-7.
The Colts scored the next eight points of the game. Adam Vinatieri hit two field goals field goals and the Colts scored a safety caused by a fumble by New England punter Ryan Allen. Stevan Ridley ran for a three-yard score midway through the third quarter, and punched in the two-point conversion himself to give the Patriots a two-touchdown lead again. Luck responded by finding Brazill for another long score, this one a 35-yarder, to make the score 29-22 heading into the fourth.
Blount set the franchise record early in the fourth quarter on this 73-yard run, bringing the game back to a two touchdown difference.
On the opening play of Indianapolis' next possession, Luck was intercepted, and Ridley scored from one yard away to put the game out of reach at 43-22.
Richard Hill of Pats Pulpit says the "team is back," comparing this New England squad to the 2001 group that first started this era of success:
This 2013 New England Patriots team is like one we haven't seen in over a decade. There are weaknesses everywhere. There's no reason for how or why they are able to do what they've been doing for the past season, yet they manage to stand up, stand their ground, and make the other team stand down. There are injuries at every single position. Brady is left without any of his targets that stand over six feet tall (pending Kenbrell Thompkins' concussion). Yet this team doesn't care what you think.
Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue says that despite the disappointing showing, the Colts had a great season that holds promise for the future:
And so in that way, Saturday night's game was really a fitting representation of the true Indianapolis Colts in 2013: a team that's not very good but that has an incredible sophomore quarterback. That's the Colts this year, and I'll go on record as saying that I'm incredibly proud of what this team has accomplished, especially this soon after a complete rebuild. But there is also a lot of work that needs to be done this offseason to take the next step, and that was apparent tonight.
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