The New England Patriots routed the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, to reach Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Az. on Feb. 1.
The New England Patriots are the 2014 AFC champions.
The Patriots relied on a dominant run game and outplayed the Indianapolis Colts in virtually all aspects to win the 2014 AFC Championship Game in a rout, 45-7, on Jan. 18. With the win, New England moves on to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Az. on Feb. 1. According to The Boston Herald's Jeff Lowe, the Patriots are seeking their first Super Bowl title in a decade.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went 23-of-35 passing for 226 yards, three touchdowns and one pick, per Lowe. He thoroughly outplayed his counterpart, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who was 12 of 33 for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. However, it was returning running back LeGarrette Blount who made the biggest difference for New England with his 148 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries.
The Colts won the coin toss but deferred in order to get the first possession of the second half. Both teams exchanged three-and-outs, but the Colts' Josh Cribbs fumbled the ball on the ensuing punt return, allowing New England to recover with good field position, per Colts.com's Kevin Bowen.
Blount, who tormented Indianapolis with four touchdowns in last season's divisional round game, punctuated a 26-yard, six-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots up. The PAT made it 7-0, per Bowen.
Bowen says Indianapolis appeared ready to answer back but running back Daniel "Boom" Herron's two drops prevented the Colts from reaching the end zone. Kicker Adam Vinatieri's 51-yarder never had a chance as it went wide right.
The Patriots made the Colts pay by moving the ball 59 yards downfield on their ensuing possession. Brady threw to fullback James Develin, whose one-yard scamper gave his team a two-touchdown lead, 14-0, to end the first quarter, per Bowen.
Luck failed to convert on a long pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks at the beginning of the second quarter which forced the Colts to punt the ball away. When the Patriots got the ball back, they were on the verge of building their lead to 21. However, Indianapolis middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson picked off Brady's pass which was intended for tight end Rob Gronkowski. Indianapolis then spotted the ball on its own 7-yard line, says Bowen.
The Colts moved the ball 93 yards down the field, thanks largely to a spectacular 37-yard catch by wide receiver T.Y. Hilton while falling out of bounds. Rookie running back Zurlon Tipton punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out to trim the deficit to 14-7, per Bowen.
According to Colts.com, the Patriots tried to move the ball on fourth-and-1 but Indianapolis made its most impressive red-zone stop of the day. That forced New England to tap Stephen Gotskowski to kick the ball from 24 yards out to pad its lead to 17-7 at halftime.
When the second half kicked off, the Patriots' offense went into high gear. New England converted on two third downs and then Brady passed to his left tackle Nate Solder for a 16-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead, per Colts.com.
Indianapolis then went three-and-out before New England tight end Rob Gronkowski scored on a touchdown to make it 31-7 with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter. Bowen says the Colts still couldn't gain any momentum when Luck threw an interception to Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis on the ensuing drive. Revis returned the ball all the way to the Colts' 13-yard line.
Blount continued to torment the Colts with his 13-yard touchdown run to make it a 31-point game at that point, 38-7, per Bowen.
When the fourth quarter began, Bowen says the Patriots went on an 11-play, 40-yard drive which culminated in Blount's third touchdown of the night for a 45-7 lead with still 10:05 remaining in the contest. Luck then threw his second pick of the game to linebacker Jaime Collins in the Colts' next drive, all but sealing their playoff fate. Both teams would go three-and-out before the final whistle blew.
Blount, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the beginning of the season but re-signed with the Patriots after a fallout with Pittsburgh, poured out his sentiments after the game to USA TODAY Sports' Gary Mihoces:
"It feels awesome.
"I haven't had a feeling like this since I've been in the league. It's unreal.
"But we have one more to get.
"I'm grateful to get in this situation period, no matter where I've been.
"I love being here. I love my team. I love my guys, the coaches, (Patriots owner) Mr. (Robert) Kraft, everybody. They welcomed me with open arms and it's been an amazing run."
On the other hand, Bowen spoke with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano to get his thoughts on the season-ending loss:
"We ran into an outstanding football team that played extremely well in all three phases.
"They got us really early on. They kind of had us on our heels tempo -- situational football. They played well, we didn't.
"It's hard, because it is the last game and you don't have another Sunday to look forward to, to go back to work and prepare and get that taste out of your mouth. We will try to learn from it. We're well aware of the fact that we need to go to work and find some answers to get over the hump to take that next step, to reach our ultimate goal to try to find a way to to win a football game like this.
"Nobody wants to end their season that way, but like I told the team, we'll learn from this and go to work and try to make 2015 better than 2014."
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