FOXBOROUGH, Mass –
First Quarter Recap
The Patriots won the toss and chose to defer to the second half.
New England opened up with Kyle Arrington on T.Y. Hilton, the same matchup we saw back in Week 11 when Hilton was held to a season-low 24 receiving yards. The Colts went three-and-out on their opening possession with an errant throw to Reggie Wayne on third down.
Indy's defense once again dialed up a three-and-out but a costly special teams mistake would give the ball right back to the Patriots. A punt went off the facemask of Josh Cribbs and the Patriots recovered deep in Indianapolis territory.
With more jumbo package looks from the Patriots (six offensive linemen, similar to the regular season meeting), New England took the early lead. A six-play, 26-yard drive ended with LeGarrette Blount punching it in from one yard out. New England led 7-0 with 10:15 to go in the first quarter.
The Colts put together a solid drive that reached Patriots territory but came away with no points. Boom Herron, who came into Sunday having caught 18 passes in 19 targets this postseason, had two drops on the drive. That set up a 51-yard field goal attempt by Adam Vinatieri, which went wide right.
Not being able to come away with points would cost the Colts in terms of field position. New England drove 59 yards in eight plays with Tom Brady finding fullback James Develin for a one-yard touchdown. New England's lead was 14-0 with 1:20 to go in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, the Patriots led the Colts 14-0.Second Quarter Recap
The Colts' trouble in getting their receivers involved carried into the second quarter. A misfire on a deep ball to Hakeem Nicks led to another Indianapolis punt.
New England continued to pound away on the ground with LeGarrette Blount heavily involved on their opening drive of the second quarter. The Patriots were looking to make it an early three-score lead but Tom Brady forced one into coverage and it was picked off by D'Qwell Jackson. The interception gave the Colts ball at their own seven-yard line.
The Colts took full advantage of the turnover with their best drive of the day. A 10-play, 93-yard drive included a massive 36-yard catch from T.Y. Hilton on a third down. The drive was capped off by undrafted free agent Zurlon Tipton running it in from one-yard out. The Patriots lead was now 14-7 with 4:54 to play in the second quarter.
New England finished the regular season leading the NFL with 66 points in the final two minutes of the first half and were poised to add to that. The Patriots would face a fourth-and-one at the Colts four-yard line with 28 seconds left in the first half. A sneak would keep the drive alive but some solid pass defense from the Colts eventually forced a 21-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
At halftime, the Patriots led the Colts 17-7.Third Quarter Recap
With the rain picking up at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots stuck with their committed, and productive, ground game. A trio of third-down conversions from the Patriots ended with offensive tackle Nate Solder catching a 16-yard touchdown off a tackle eligible play. The Patriots lead was 24-7 with 10:03 to go in the third quarter.
Down by three scores, the Colts desperately needed a point-scoring drive. Instead, it was another three-and-out for an Indianapolis offense that had completed just one pass to a receiver up to this point.
A downpour at Gillette Stadium didn't keep the Patriots from reaching the end zone. The pound and ground nature of the Patriots, along with a perfect Tom Brady to start the third quarter (8-for-8) led to a Rob Gronkowski five-yard touchdown. New England's lead was 31-7 with 3:19 to play in the third quarter.
Any hope for another historic playoff comeback ended when Andrew Luck threw a pick on the next series to Darrelle Revis, which was returned to the Colts 13-yard line.
On the next play, LeGarrette Blount scored from 13 yards out to push the lead to 38-7 with 2:08 to go in the third quarter.
The Colts would go three-and-out on their final possession of the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, the Colts led the Patriots 38-7.Fourth Quarter Recap
It was another methodical Patriots drive that would chew up plenty of yardage and clock. An 11-play, 40-yard drive would end with LeGarrette Blount's third touchdown of the night. For the game, Blount had 30 carries for 148 yards up to this point. The Patriots lead had swelled to 45-7 with 10:05 to play in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuring drive, Andrew Luck was picked off by linebacker Jaime Collins, marking his 10th interception in four career games against the Patriots.
The team would trade punts to end the game.
A 45-7 loss in the AFC Championship would mark the end to the 2014 season for the Colts.
Colts Pre-Game Notes
-With a win today, the Colts will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIX, on February 1, in Glendale, Arizona.
-The rain has moved into the area around Gillette Stadium. The forecast calls for temperatures to drop into the 30s by kickoff with steady rain throughout tonight's AFC Championship tilt.