The New England Patriots faced off against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Round Game in a rainy and windy Foxboro, MA. With a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line both teams were confident coming in: the Patriots were coming off a bye week and well rested after their 12-4 regular season; the Colts coming off their miraculous come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card Game against the Kansas City Chiefs where they erased a 28 point second half deficit.
This time, the Patriots were too much for the Colts and won 43 to 22 to head back to the AFC Championship Game yet again. The Patriots ran the ball 46 times and only passed 27 times as the Ground and Pound Patriots scored six rushing touchdowns and the defense came up with a number of big plays led by cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and rookie linebacker Jamie Collins.
In the first half, the Patriots were clearly establishing the running game. In fact, there were some questionable play calls by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as he ran the ball excessively, even in the two minute drill at the end of the half. On third and two near midfield and the clock ticking under three minutes in the half the Patriots ran the ball and did not convert.
Rather than go for it on 4th down at midfield, the Patriots outsmarted themselves by showing they were keeping the offense on the field, but instead ran on the punt unit but could not get the kick off. The delay of game penalty moved them back, the long snapper Danny Aiken sailed the snap over punter Ryan Allen’s head, and in a Garo Yepremian maneuver tried to toss the ball to a teammate inside the five yard line. The ball went out the end zone for a safety.
In the second half, the plan to keep running and running the ball came to fruition as the Patriots began making plays off of play action and eventually the hammer came down. Running back LeGarrette Blount had a 73 yard touchdown run and Stevan Ridley contributed as well. Blount tied a Patriots record with 166 yards rushing in a playoff game and four touchdowns. Running back Stevan Ridley punched the ball in the end zone twice as well. On defense, rookie linebacker Jamie Collins was all over the field with an interception, a sack, strong play in the running game and in coverage as well.