The conditions would dictate it, both the weather and the opponent. An unrelenting rain would soak the field, meaning throwing a lot would be problematic. The Patriots needed to run the ball early and often, get a quick lead on the stubborn Colts, and never look back.
That’s exactly how it unfolded.
An Alfonzo Denanrd INT of Andrew Luck on the game’s third play set up the first of
The 166 total on the ground for Blount tied a franchise record for most rushing yards in a playoff game, previously set by Curtis Martin. Blount actually broke the record with 169 yards, but his last carry of the night lost three yards, putting his net total back down to 166.
“That’s what we go into the game thinking, that we’re the more physical team no matter who we’re playing," Blount asserted. "That’s how we practice, how we play. The game plan was to be more physical than the other team. Indianapolis is a great team. You saw what they did last week, coming from 28 points down, rallied and won. So, we had to be physical and keep our foot on the pedal.”
Indy kept it close through three quarters, but the New England ground game eventually ran away with the game.
And now, it’s on to a third straight AFC Championship Game for the Patriots – opponent and location to be determined by the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s San Diego-Denver tilt at Mile High.
“There are a lot of games you have to win and a lot of great things you have to do on the football field to get to that point. We definitely have to take advantage of our opportunity here and just do like we always do and that’s put in all the work. That starts tomorrow.”
“Well that’s the good thing about football – you still have to play the games,” left guard/co-captain
“It’s special. Every year it’s special,” noted special teams co-captain
But for now, the Patriots can do nothing but sit, wait, and watch. A Broncos win and the Patriots head west; a Chargers upset and San Diego visits Gillette next Sunday at 3 p.m.
“I’ll watch,” Mankins declared. “We’re going to be playing either one of them, so I might as well start getting a little scouting report on them. So, I’m sure most of the guys will be watching and we’ll fire it back up Monday once we know who we’re playing.”