Somebody may want to call the authorities, because the Indianapolis Colts were victims of "Blount" force trauma on Saturday night.
While much of the focus was on Tom Brady and Andrew Luck heading into the Colts' divisional round matchup with the New England Patriots, it was LeGarrette Blount who stole the show during the Patriots' 43-22 win at Gillette Stadium.
The veteran running back finished with 166 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. The four TDs were a franchise record:
Blount's 4th rushing TD of the night sets a new franchise for both regular season & playoff games.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 12, 2014
"He's got that combination of size, power and quickness and speed," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He can run hard. He can make guys miss and he can go the distance."
As a team, the Patriots rushed for 234 yards and six touchdowns, which were the most in a playoff game since 1993:
Pats are the first team with 6 rushing TDs in a playoff game since the 1993 49ers— trey wingo (@wingoz) January 12, 2014
Despite an off night from Brady, he still became the first QB in NFL history to eclipse 6,000 yards passing in the playoffs, per NFL on ESPN:
Also absurd is the fact that Brady has now made seven AFC Championship games during his 12 years as a starting quarterback, per Dov Kleiman:
Many will use this win as more evidence of Brady's greatness, but time and again, Blount's runs set the tone for the New England offense.
Blount pounded the Colts in the early going, picking up yards at an effective clip, and it seemed inevitable that the Colts defense would eventually break under the pressure. And break it did in the fourth quarter. With Indianapolis surging in the second half and cutting the deficit to seven points, 29-22, Blount broke free for a 73-yard touchdown run that broke the Colts' spirit and put the game out of reach for good.
From beginning to end, it was the "LeGarrette Blount Show," as he scored the Patriots' first touchdown of the game, a little over a minute into the proceedings.
Luck helped Blount get off to the good start, as he threw an interception on Indianapolis' third play from scrimmage. Alfonzo Dennard notched the pick and returned the ball to the Colts' 2-yard line.
New England doubled its lead to 14-0 with another short touchdown run from Blount, this one coming with a little over seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Unwilling to remain stymied for too long, Luck got the Colts on the board and halved the deficit when he found Lavon Brazill with a pinpoint pass over the shoulder for a 38-yard touchdown pass. It would be one of many beautiful passes Luck would unleash during the game.
The third time was the charm for Blount, as he scored on yet another two-yard run to pad the Patriots' lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter. New England's Twitter account pointed out that the veteran running back had already tied the franchise record for rushing TDs in a game, and it was only the first half:
LeGarrette Blount just tied the franchise record with 3 rushing TDs in a game...and it's only the start of the 2nd quarter.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 12, 2014
It was at this point that the Colts would mount their comeback attempt. After an Adam Vinatieri field goal and safety on an attempted punt from New England, Indianapolis was down nine points, 21-12, heading into halftime.
Vinatieri then knocked home another field goal to make it a 21-15 game.
Sensing the need to stem the tide, New England got a crucial touchdown, courtesy of their other running back, Stevan Ridley. After converting on their two-point attempt, the Pats gave themselves a 29-15 cushion with a little over six minutes left in the third quarter.
Luck came to the rescue again, lofting another masterful throw over the top of the secondary and into the arms of Brazill for a 35-yard touchdown.
Then came the hammer from Blount, which all but decided the game. Ridley added a one-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots what would be the final score of the game.
This victory bodes well for New England for the rest of the postseason, per SportsCenter:
The only three times the Colts and Patriots have met in the playoffs, the winner went on to win the Super Bowl.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 12, 2014
Key Player Grades
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: B
Brady really didn't have a great game. He only finished 13-of-25 for 198 yards and zero touchdowns. For a QB of Brady's ability, those are pedestrian numbers.
Surprisingly, the Patriots are unbeaten in the postseason when Brady fails to throw a touchdown, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Patriots have put up 43 points so far w/o a Tom Brady TD pass. Patriots are 3-0 in playoff games started by Brady when he doesn't throw a TD— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 12, 2014
Of course, Brady never needed to be anything more than a game manager. He did well in avoiding turnovers and moving the chains when it was needed.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots: A+
What else needs to be said about Blount's performance?
The veteran running back was brilliant for the entire game. The Colts weren't a terrible team defensively, yet he cut through them with surgical precision.
Bleacher Report's Erik Frenz noted that Blount came to the Patriots for virtually nothing—just more evidence of Bill Belichick's genius:
The Patriots traded Jeff Demps and a 7th-round pick for LeGarrette Blount. That may be the best trade Belichick has ever made.— Erik Frenz (@ErikFrenz) January 12, 2014
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: B-
The Colts needed Luck to be transcendent, but he was merely above-average on Saturday night. His stat line isn't all that flattering—20-of-41 for 331 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Luck's got plenty of years ahead of him, and this loss will likely serve as fuel in the future.
The Patriots will take on the winner of the Denver Broncos-San Diego Chargers divisional round game in the AFC Championship. The Colts head home losers, but there's no question that the franchise is headed in the right direction.