The New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 tonight, in what was a hard fought victory that sent the Pats to the AFC Championship for the third straight year. New England was led by a powerful running game, as they racked up 234 yards, and six touchdowns on the ground. The defense gave up some yards, but they also came up with four interceptions, with two of them coming from Alfonzo Dennard.
Here are three quick takeaways from this win.
1. Running Game Makes Pats Legit Contender
Having a one-dimensional offense generally won’t result in playoff wins, which is why the Pats moving the ball on the ground was very encouraging. LeGarrette Blount continued his hot streak, running for 166 yards, and four touchdowns. The offensive line was great all game long, opening up big holes for Blount to hit. Stevan Ridley chipped in 52 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, he had no fumbles. If the Patriots can run the ball like this next week in the AFC Championship Game, I definitely think that they would have a good chance at winning, and advancing to the Super Bowl.
2. Secondary Rises Up To Challenge
Yes, the Colts did total 317 yards through the air, but it was an overall solid performance from the Pats’ secondary, specifically from cornerbacks Aqib Talib, and Alfonzo Dennard. Both of these guys locked up on the outside, with Talib taking out T.Y. Hilton for a good portion of the contest. Alfonzo Dennard came up with two big interceptions, the first one setting the Patriots up at the one yard line. Rookie Logan Ryan also played well, as he got most of Kyle Arrington’s snaps in the second half. Devin McCourty and Steve Gregory didn’t have their best game, allowing a few big passes to be hit behind them, but I am confident that they will be able to bounce back, and play well next week.
3. Jamie Collins Has Breakout Game
Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins played extremely well in this one, both in pass coverage, and in rushing the passer. His incredible athleticism makes the pass defense he plays very good, as he intercepted Luck once, and defended tight end Coby Fleeter nicely on a third down, near the goal-line. He was also in the backfield throughout the game, even sacking Luck once. I think that Collins will play a big role on this Pats defense going forward, especially if they meet up with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, in which his pass coverage, and blitzing ability will come in handy.