January 12

NFL PLAYOFFS: Broncos it is

Run game, defense send Patriots to AFC Championship

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots are back in the AFC championship game because of a dominant running attack and an opportunistic defense.

click image to enlarge

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates running back Stevan Ridley's touchdown during the second half of an AFC divisional NFL playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Oh yeah, and Tom Brady too.

You know, the guy who filled in as the holder on extra points when the starter got hurt.

In a game in which he became the first player to reach 6,000 yards passing in the postseason, Brady’s main offensive roles were to adjust play calls at the line of scrimmage and hand the ball off.

New England rushed for 234 yards and beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Saturday night to advance to next Sunday’s game in Denver. The top-seeded Broncos moved on with a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

The second-seeded Patriots (13-4) got a 73-yard touchdown run from LeGarrette Blount and had four interceptions against Andrew Luck.

“The way our defense is getting the ball for us and, really, what we’ve done the last three or four weeks (with) the running game has just been awesome,” Brady said. “Hopefully, we can do it next week, too.”

And if he has to hold again for Stephen Gostkowski? Well, at least he has some experience.

Punter and holder Ryan Allen hurt his shoulder when he raced back after the ball was snapped over his head late in the second quarter. It resulted in a safety and the loss of Allen for the game.

When Stevan Ridley scored on a 3-yard run with 6:18 left in the third quarter, the Patriots went for a 2-point conversion. Ridley ran the ball in for a 29-15 lead.

“The holder was no factor at all. We were perfectly comfortable with Tom doing the holding,” coach Bill Belichick said Sunday. “It was more just the strategic plan of either being up by 13 or being up by 14.”

Brady did get two chances to hold on extra points after fourth-quarter touchdowns and, as usual, came through.

He said that the last time he held on extra points was in the 2000 Orange Bowl for Michigan. Michigan won 35-34 when Alabama’s try for an extra point in overtime failed. Brady also threw four touchdown passes in that game.

“Maybe I’ll try renegotiating my contract or something for doing more work,” he joked after Saturday night’s win. “I don’t even do it in practice. They said, ‘Get in there and do it,’ and I said, ‘What do I say?’ But we figured it out.”

Gostkowski said Brady does practice holding, just not every week.

“He’s not as fine-tuned as Ryan is, but he did a good job,” the kicker said.

Brady even pulled off a surprise punt on third down in New England’s previous game, a 34-20 win over Buffalo in the regular-season finale.

He does whatever it takes to win, even if it means throwing for fewer than 200 yards in each of his past three games.

“Tom did a lot,” wide receiver Julian Edelman said. “A lot of people don’t understand that when you have a quarterback who can go out and put you in the right play every time, good things are going to happen.”

So Brady handed the ball off 45 times and threw just 25 passes for 13 completions and 198 yards. Blount rushed for 166 yards, 73 coming on the touchdown before Gostkowski’s kick out of Brady’s hold made it 36-22.

After a slow start in his first season with the Patriots, Blount ran for a total of four touchdowns in his last two regular-season games then got four more against the Colts.

His 334 all-purpose yards (189 rushing, 145 returning kickoffs) against the Bills set a club record. The Patriots had 267 yards rushing in that game and 645 in their past three.

(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

Clearing the Bases - Friday
Pitching, pitching, pitching

More PPH Blogs

High School Football 2013

Fall Sports 2012

Purchase Photos

Find more photos >>