LeGarrette Blount, Running Back**
(On dominating in the run game)
"We didn't know that we [were] going to be able to dominate, but we came in, our game plan was to play tough and play physical and go out there and get a win by any means necessary, and if we weren't able to run the ball, we always got number 12 [Tom Brady] that's going to put the team on his back and do great things like he's always done in his whole career."
(On winning a playoff game without Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass)
"If you would have told me before the game, I would not have believed it at all."
(On looking up at the in-stadium video board during his 73-yard touchdown run)
"I didn't look at the big screen until I got free. I looked at it to see if anybody was close to catching me, and they weren't, and the rest is history."
(On playing in his first postseason game)
"I'm loving it. [To] come out here and get this win against a great Colts team, it just shows you how good our team can be. We've got to go back at film, we've probably made some mistakes, some things that we've got to correct, but for the most part, our offensive line had an amazing performance. In my eyes, they're all Pro Bowlers."
(On setting a Patriots record with 169 rushing yards and four touchdowns)
"It means a lot. I'm excited that they gave me the chance to carry the ball enough times to do that, but I've got to say hats off to the offensive line because on a couple of those runs, I didn't get touched."
(On how confident he is running the ball right now)
"I'm really confident. Like I said, those guys in front of me, they don't get tired. I ain't going to get tired, and if we're going to be able to continue running the football like that throughout the playoffs then I'll be happy with it."
(On Tom Brady not having to do much given the effectiveness of the run game)
"It says a lot about that offensive line. They couldn't have put up a better performance. They've been doing this throughout the whole season, and I think Logan [Mankins] has been the only one that's got the recognition, but it's all of those [guys] up there that contain and do awesome and make those holes for me and Shane [Vereen] and [Stevan] Rid[ley] and Brandon [Bolden]."
(On what it means to go to the AFC Championship game)
"I think this is the third year in a row that we've been there, and we've been getting right there knocking on the door and we haven't knocked it down yet, so we're going to go out there and put on the game film and find out who we're going to play tomorrow and get to work on them."
(On if he feels like the Patriots are more physical than other teams)
"That's what we go into the game thinking. We feel like we're the most physical team no matter who we play, and that's how we practice, that's how we play, and that's our mindset."
Jamie Collins, Linebacker
(On his thoughts on the win)
"It was a big difference but we have to step up with the guys we've got, go out and play our game, and try and come out with a W."
(On the difference between regular-season games and the postseason)
"It was kind of a difference but like I said, every game is the same to me. Just go out there, do what you have to do, and hopefully it comes out on the positive end."
(On his team-oriented mindset)
"It's a postseason game, a big game. We're down a man, so you know, next man up. That's the way I look at it. Next man up."
Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver
(On if he'd rather just have one role)
"There's an old saying, 'The more you can do, you add value.' I love returning punts and whatever the coaches ask me to do, I'm going to do if it ultimately helps the team. We've got a big one ahead of us and the coaches are always preaching [that] they're going to put the best players at every position, whether it's special teams or this, that or that. And you've got to take pride in that."
(On how enjoyable it was as a receiver to watch the offense have so much success on the ground)
"It's fun! Sometimes you want the ball but [laughs] anytime we're just going to keep putting points on and LeGarrette [Blount], Rid [Stevan Ridley] and Shane-o [Shane Vereen] are going to run like that. We're ultimately here to put points on the board and when the team does that, you're just doing your job and you're having fun, 'cause we're winning. Hopefully we can do that again next week."
(On Tom Brady not having to do a lot)
"Tom [Brady] did a lot. That's very false. He puts us in the plays and he gets us right. A lot of people don't understand that when you have a quarterback who can go out there and put you in the right play every time, good things are going to happen. Sometimes [the opponent] is not in running situations and we have a quarterback that can change the play on the spot and execute. So I would say that's a little false."
Stephen Gostkowski, Kicker
(On assuming punting duties)
"You can't prepare for something like that. It's unfortunate that Ryan [Allen] couldn't return. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and I hope he's OK. He's done such a great job this year and it's just an unfortunate set of circumstances. I'm lucky enough to do a good enough job and help the team win. It's hard to have too much fun when my compadre is sidelined with an injury, but it's about as much fun as I can have if I'm not kicking field goals."
(On his overall punting experience)
"It's a lot different. I was really just worried about catching it and getting it off. That's the first time I'd ever punted in a game in my life so it was just a challenge and luckily I didn't let it get me nervous. I felt pretty comfortable out there. I don't know how, but I think getting off a good first punt helped a little bit too. I just tried not to do too much. We've got gunners like [Matthew] Slater and Kannoris [Davis] down there. I just give them a chance and I did the best I could. I've never punted in a game before. It's one of those things where you really don't know how you're going to do. There are so many different things that go into punting with catching the ball, getting the laces around, and doing it all with the timing. They've got guys coming at you and [you have to] get the balls off fast enough. I have decent hands and I was a little worried that it was raining. So I put some gloves on and just tried to catch it and kick it to give the guys a chance. I'm upset that Bill [Belichick] ruined my net [yards] at the end there, but it was cool. I had a good time."
(On Brady acting as the holder)
"I don't think I'm going to hurt him kicking the ball. I was more nervous of him holding the ball than I was punting though. Not getting to work with a guy like that. He did a great job stepping up and throwing it down. The guy's a good athlete. He's not as fine-tuned as Ryan [Allen] is but he did a good job."
Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker
(On if the game plan was to force Andrew Luck into making bad decisions)
"It's always something that we want to try and do, especially playing a good offense like this – a good team – to give our offense back the ball. Andrew Luck is a great player. You guys saw what he did last week against Kansas City [Chiefs] making the big comeback from that deficit, so anytime we can get turnovers and get Tom [Brady] and [LeGarrette] Blount, [Stevan] Ridley, get all those guys the ball back it's good for us, it's good for the defense."
(On linebacker Jamie Collins' strong play)
"I've seen it ever since he's gotten here and ever since OTA's, you can definitely tell how athletic the guy is. He's probably one of the most athletic guys on the team and it didn't take him long to kind of get a grasp on what was going on and for him to make plays like that everybody else might be surprised, but we see it every day and for him to come out and have the game that he did, I wasn't surprised at all."
(On if he feels comfortable on the field with his play)
"I am and even when I was playing pretty bad and everybody was trying to get on to me, but I feel like I've been playing a lot better at the end of the season. As far as overall, there is always room for improvement and each and every week I'm trying to get better at little things and will be better off in the long run."
Devin McCourty, Defensive Back
(On if T.Y. Hilton was as good as advertised)
"Yeah, [T.Y. Hilton is] a good player. I thought Aqib [Talib] did a great job on him, making everything tough. It's hard to go into a game and a guy that's going to get targeted a lot – he's their main weapon – and say he's not going to have a catch. But he's a good football player."
(On if he thought Jamie Collins was capable of playing as well as he did)
"If you just watch, [Jamie Collins] has been getting better week by week. That's what it's about. Our young guys have worked their butts off all year and there's cash in that now. All that work that they've put in is showing up now and I'm happy for them. I think he has a lot more big games in him and we've just got to keep it rolling."
(On what were some of the keys to slowing down the Colts' passing offense)
"Trying not to give up big plays and I thought it was key for our D-line and our secondary to work together. So for them to get pressure and then it was big for us to take advantage of the opportunities we had. I thought we all did a good job of it, us in the secondary and the linebackers making those interceptions. It was huge."
Matthew Mulligan, Tight End
(On the running backs)
"We got some tremendous running backs. It makes it really easy for us as blockers. We got guys in the backfield that can basically do anything they want with the football, so it's a tremendous team effort and we're going to soak it in a little bit, but then move on to whomever we play next."
(On if he's ever been on a team with six rushing touchdowns in one game)
"I can't say that I have. I've been on some teams where we've rushed for a lot of yards, but I don't know, six rushing touchdowns are pretty impressive and like I said, speaks volumes about the running backs we have."
(On if running back LeGarrette Blount had more repetitions in practice this week)
"I just think it's when they get their opportunities they try to do the best they possibly can. I think it just works out that way that Blount is really crushing it at this point, but [Stevan] Ridley is too, so all together, guys do. It takes everyone. It's not just one guy. If we were to sit here and say, 'Oh it's because Blount got so many touches and so forth,' we would be mistaken because it takes 10 other guys. Especially on offense we all got to work together to get that one guy the accolades, but everybody is going a great job."
(On setting a physical tone right away)
"I think we always want to be physical, so that's been our mentality here the entire season, whether we're throwing 50 passes or running it 45 times. We always want to be the most physical team, so when we have that opportunity to go in there and really pound the rock – Coach [Josh] McDaniels really likes to do that, so I really like that he gives us the opportunity to seize the moment and really set that tone."
Stevan Ridley, Running Back
(On if the running game is especially important this time of year)
"Absolutely. I think you have to have defense, you have to have a running game, and you also have to have the offense that's playing together. If you look at the film, you watch, you see our receivers working on blocking downfield. That's one of the big things that they coach our wideouts, not to just catch the ball and run routes but to also get in the trenches and make the tough blocks and digging out the safeties, and that's what's springing these runs for us and making these creases. Our team is really working together. I mean, this is a total team effort offensively, and we're doing a great job of moving the ball."
(On if he and LeGarrette Blount feed off each other's success in the backfield)
"Absolutely. I mean, Blount's been – he's been giving me a tough run, man. It's tough to catch this guy right now, but I mean, when you're breaking 50, 60, 70-yard runs, it's going to be like that, so maybe I've got to up my speed in the offseason so I can catch the big boy. But he's doing a tremendous job right now, and I'd just really say as a whole our running back room is a room that they're leaning on, and we're just trying our best to do our job when we go out there each and every night."
(On if he feels confident running the ball these past few games)
"I'm really just thankful for my opportunity, man. It's been a tough year, but for me it's just sticking it out, and I'm glad my coaches are coming back to me and letting me contribute to this team victory. So for us, we just try to go out there and maximize every opportunity that we get, and that's what I'm doing."
(On what he's learned from watching LeGarrette Blount persevere through his own struggles)
"You've just got to keep pushing, man. You've got to keep pushing. I always say, it's always, life is – it's a journey, man. It's a test of your faith, because you're going to have your ups and downs, but you look at Blount, a guy that's never been in the postseason, never been in the playoffs, he comes in here and plays his butt off, and for me, I've been here, I've been fortunate enough to be here for three years and been to the postseason every year, so really we just try to go out there and just focus on this year. And this year we have a group of guys that has been through a lot. This team has been through a lot, from the beginning all the way till now we've been through a ton, but we've found a way to win. People sit there and try to count us out, but we've got a tremendous coaching staff, and we've got guys that are hungry and wanting to play, and that's what you need if we want to try to get to where we want to get to and try to be playing in February."
Matthew Slater, Wide Receiver
(On the performance of the Patriots' special teams)
"It was good enough to win, but it's not going to be good enough going forward. I had one of those penalties myself, so we've got to go back and eliminate bad football. It's disappointing to see that but some of those penalties were guys putting in a great effort and just getting a bad angle or just a step behind. But we've got to clean it up. All in all, it was good enough to win, but we've got to get better."
(On if the Patriots have practiced having Stephen Gostkowski punt)
"We definitely haven't practiced very many times Steve [Gostkowski] punting the ball. That just goes to show you Steve and the type of player that he's been for us all year, the type of player he's been throughout his career, to be able to come in in a key situation like that and hit some good punts and help us with the field position."
(On what it means to go to the AFC Championship)
"It's special. Every year it's special, but this year we've been through so much – with the injuries, it seems like every week a key cog has gone down. And we've just found a way to rally around one another and continue to play hard and compete. We've got great leadership on this team and obviously we've got one of the best coaches [Bill Belichick] to ever do it. So it's just special."
Nate Solder, Tackle
(On if the game plan was to run the ball or if that just developed during the game)
"I think we always try to get the running game going, but it doesn't always work. I don't know, you'd have to ask the offensive coordinator, but we did what we were told, that's for sure."
(On what it's like as an offensive line when you feel like you're able to push people around)
"It was a hard-fought game out there, it always is. We had some good things going, like I said, but I would never use that term."
(On how much confidence the team currently has in the run game)
"Shoot, it feels like every time you've really got to prove yourself on every run, and there was plenty of third down and short situations in this game that we had to prove ourselves, and that's kind of what we did in some situations."
(On LeGarrette Blount's speed in the open field)
"I think he's an amazing player. I'm really glad to play with him."
Aqib Talib, Cornerback
(On playing in his second playoffs in New England)
"I love it. Just the atmosphere throughout the building the whole week, the atmosphere pregame, the atmosphere throughout the game; there's nothing better than that."
(On the general play of Tom Brady)
"[The offense] looked pretty good to us. Half of those runs you see, that's Tom reading the defense and checking to those runs. He's not throwing the ball but he's making plays and reading the defense so he looked good to me."
(On how the defense approached T.Y. Hilton)
"We had a good game plan. We let him get behind us two times. One of our main points of emphasis this week is to not let him run through the defense and we let him do it two times; one in man [coverage] and one in zone. I think we did alright. We contained him but we didn't completely stop him."