Foxboro, Ma.- Sunday night was supposed to be the night the Colts would step up and challenge the New England Patriots and possibly pull off the upset of a team that manhandled them three times in a row over the last two seasons. Well, the Patriots thought otherwise and proceeded to destroy the AFC South champions, dominating in all phases, specifically the run game, by a score of 45-7. It was the biggest blowout for the Patriots in their eight AFC Championship wins and the second largest in AFC Championship history.
The game looked like it was going to be a blowout in the first quarter when the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Tom Brady got the ball back early in the second quarter and started to drive the offense down the field, and you could see the Colts starting to fold. Unfortunately, Brady has an issue with forcing passes to Gronkowski, and this time it kept the Colts in the game, at least for a short period. Brady threw an ill-advised pass over the middle for Rob Gronkowski, but Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson made the interception at the Patriots seven yard line.
Andrew Luck went to work and received a little help from the Patriots in the process. New England made a great defensive play and had Indianapolis facing 3rd and six, but Vince Wilfork foolishly jumped elbow-first into the already completed tackle and gave the Colts a much needed first down. After a great pass-and-catch from Luck to Hilton, Luck hit Coby Fleener twice and then handed off to Tipton who plunged in for six. The Colts were only down 14-7 and looked like they were back in it.
Brady and the offense got the ball back with just under five minutes to go in the half and proceeded to work the clock down by churning out first downs. Although the Patriots didn’t score a touchdown to end the half, they did pick up a field goal to put them ahead 17-7. New England won the toss so they would be receiving the kickoff to start the second half. The turn-and-burn plan the Patriots love to use worked.
On the first drive of the second half, the Patriots featured a little bit of everything. The star of the night, LeGarrette Blount, picked up 40 yards on five carries and to cap off the drive, New England used left tackle Nate Solder as an eligible receiver and he delivered with a 13-yard touchdown catch. The Patriots worked five minutes off the clock and upped their lead to 24-7. The Colts had to get the ball back and score if they wanted to stay alive. Three plays later, Andrew Luck and his offense were walking off the field after a lightning quick three-and-out.
The Colts did a good job of keeping Rob Gronkowski under control to this point, but the big man from Arizona can never be completely shut down. Gronkowski made three catches for 28 yards on the drive, finishing it off with a five-yard touchdown catch on the split-out slant, a play the Patriots have killed teams with all year. It was 31-7 Patriots and the rout was on.
Andrew Luck came out firing on the next series, hitting Hakeem Nicks for 15 and Dwayne Allen for six, but after an incompletion to Nicks, Luck made a bad decision and Darrelle Revis capitalized by making an interception that sealed the game. Revis returned the pick to the 13, and on the ensuing play, LeGarrette Blount rambled the rest of the way to give the Patriots a 38-7 lead. Game over and it wasn’t even the fourth quarter yet.
The Colts picked up a quick first down on their next drive, but it was quickly followed by ANOTHER three-and-out. The Patriots took the ball and did what they had been doing all half- run it down the Colts throat and score a touchdown. New England went up 45-7 and the game was starting to get historically ugly. The fourth quarter was anticlimactic as the Colts continued to sputter and the Patriots were able to bring in Jimmy Garoppolo to finish things up.The Patriots will face the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, February 1st. The Patriots will be looking to win their fourth Lombardi Trophy while the Seahawks look to become the first back-to-back champion since the 03-04 Patriots. It has the potential to be a game for the ages.