January 10

NFL PLAYOFFS: Master of comebacks

Brady, Luck have knack for late wins

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady has been leading successful comebacks for more than a decade. Andrew Luck is just getting started.

One of them should have a chance to do that again tonight.

The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, who have overcome big deficits this season, will meet in the AFC divisional round.

The Colts are here with the second biggest comeback in NFL postseason history. They outlasted the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game 45-44 after trailing 38-10 early in the third quarter.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” Brady said. “Down 28 points there in the third quarter, they just made a bunch of good plays and it took them until the very end to win.”

The Colts had other impressive comebacks in the regular season — beating Houston after trailing by 18 in the third quarter and overcoming fourth-quarter deficits to win three other games.

Easing up with a big lead on the Patriots also can be dangerous.

They erased a 24-point halftime deficit to beat Denver in overtime, topped New Orleans on a touchdown pass with 5 seconds left and scored two touchdowns in the last 61 seconds to come from 12 points back and beat Cleveland by one.

Brady “has definitely set the standard for success at the quarterback position,” Luck said.

The Patriots quarterback has led them to 41 wins in games in which they trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter. Luck has 11 of those, the most by a quarterback in his first two seasons since 1970.

This season, the Patriots (12-4) are 8-4 in games decided by seven points or fewer, while the Colts (12-5) are 6-1 when the final margin is six or fewer.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games. They’ve been in a lot of close games,” Brady said. “They find a way to win them. That’s how they got to this point. Hopefully, we can go out and be the team that goes out on top.”

Here are five things to watch for as the Patriots try to advance to their third straight AFC championship game:

INJURIES KEEP COMING: Each team had a starter added this week to a long list of injuries. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes went on injured reserve with a knee injury and Colts cornerback Greg Toler went on his team’s list with a groin injury. New England already had lost for the season linebacker Jerod Mayo, defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, tight end Rob Gronkowski and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Indianapolis has been without wide receiver Reggie Wayne, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, linebacker Pat Angerer and offensive guard Donald Thomas for much of the season.

RUNNING PATS: The Patriots are coming off their best ground game of the season with 267 yards. With rain likely for their second straight game, another solid rushing attack would help. LeGarrette Blount has emerged as the top runner after rushing for 189 yards in the regular-season finale, a 34-20 win over Buffalo.

“I just try to be more cautious with the football (in the rain), keep the football secure,” Blount said. “I’m not too worried about my footing. There’s nothing you can really do about it.”

HERE COMES MATHIS: The Colts linebacker led the NFL with a team-record 19 1/2 sacks then added a strip-sack of Kansas City’s Alex Smith that led to a Colts fumble recovery last Saturday. He has five career sacks against Brady, the most against any quarterback not in the Colts’ division.

“He’s a great player,” Brady said. “You try to put guys around him and double team him, but he still seems to be making all the plays. I just know I don’t have a lot of time back there in the pocket to sort things out.”

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


Blogs

More PPH Blogs

High School Football 2013

Fall Sports 2012

Purchase Photos

Find more photos >>