Posted January 12, 2014

First Down/Fourth Down: LeGarrette Blount leads way as Patriots run past Colts

AFC East, AFC South, First Down/Fourth Down, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, NFL Playoffs
LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots routed the Colts.

LeGarrette Blount ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots routed the Colts. (David Bergman/SI)

“We felt like we got good value,” Bill Belichick said back in May after his Patriots traded a seventh-round draft pick and Jeff Demps to the Buccaneers for LeGarrette Blount, who had fallen out of favor (and mostly out of the lineup) in Tampa Bay.

What appeared to be a lopsided deal — Demps landed on injured reserve for the second time in two NFL seasons; Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven TDs in the regular season — turned into absolute robbery Saturday. Blount scored four touchdowns and finished with 166 yards on the ground in a 43-22 romp over the Colts. That 166-yard rushing total tied a New England postseason franchise record.

Not every move the Patriots have made under Belichick has panned out as hoped (hello, Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth). However, it does seem that this franchise pulls off this sort of trick more often than many others. Alfonzo Dennard, who had a huge interception early in this game, was a seventh-round draft pick after off-field issues pushed him down the board. Julian Edelman, the team’s leading receiver both Saturday and during the regular season, was a seventh-rounder as well.

The Patriots did not necessarily need Blount when they made the trade, and he had to work his way onto the roster. Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden all sat in front of Blount on the depth chart at one point.

But the move eventually paid off, as Belichick sort of predicted it might.

More of the best and worst from New England’s divisional-round win over Indianapolis:

First Down: Jamie Collins.

A star of the 2013 NFL combine, Collins turned in a solid rookie season. He kicked his game up a notch Saturday.

Collins picked up a sack (his first of the season and pro career), hit Andrew Luck three times, had two tackles for loss and intercepted a pass while dropping deep into coverage. The Colts simply had no answers for him, no matter where Collins opted to line up.

The Southern Miss product was New England’s first selection of the 2013 draft, at No. 52 overall after a trade down out of Round 1. And the Patriots would have been hard-pressed to find much more value had they stayed put.

Fourth Down: Trent Richardson.

Beating a dead horse here, but …

Maybe the Colts feel obligated to give Richardson some meaningful carries after trading a first-round pick for him. Maybe they really, truly believe — for whatever currently inexplicable reason — that Richardson is their best option in short yardage. Whatever the reasoning, the Colts subbed in Richardson on a 2nd-and-goal at the New England 3, down by nine in the third quarter. Predictably, Richardson was stuffed.

Because of what it cost to acquire him and his young age (22), Richardson figures to be in the Colts’ plans heading into 2014. Unless he can shake his tendency to tip-toe around the line, though, he won’t stay there for long.

First Down: Andrew Luck’s future.

Luck threw four interceptions Saturday, in a loss that ended his team’s season three wins shy of a championship. So, in those areas, Luck himself probably will chalk this one up as a serious disappointment.

But there is little doubt at this point that Luck is here to stay as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Even in a difficult outing and a 21-point loss, Luck delivered several eye-popping plays, including deep balls to T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. His ability to keep his eyes downfield despite pressure is about as good as it gets in the NFL — something he showed off versus the Patriots, completing at least two passes right as he was hammered by a rushing defender.

With Hilton, Brazill, Da’Rick Rogers, Coby Fleener and others around him, Luck should only raise his game in the coming years. That thought alone ought to give the Colts comfort as they prep for the offseason.

Fourth Down: The Colts defense.

Two games and 88 points allowed. That’s hardly a recipe for a long playoff run — and quite frankly, it’s amazing Indianapolis made it as far as it did given the issues that presented themselves on defense. One week after allowing the Chiefs to race out to a 38-10 lead, the Colts defense had no answers for the Patriots. Perhaps most frustrating, New England barely even needed Tom Brady to break a sweat. He finished with just 198 yards passing, while the Patriots’ run game (led by Blount) rolled up 234 yards.

Even if Luck had been at his best, which he wasn’t, Indianapolis would have struggled to keep pace.

First Down: New England at home.

According to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, the Patriots entered these playoffs 80-for-80 since 2001 in home games in which they led by eight or more points. They’re now 81-for-81.

That’s a remarkable run for any team, and it played to the point many people made this week: that Indianapolis could not afford to fall behind, as it had in so many games this season. The Colts briefly threatened to erase a pair of 14-point New England leads. In the end, the Patriots pulled away … again.

Fourth Down: Ryan Allen.

Rough day for the Patriots’ punter, who was on the receiving end of a horrendous snap that led to a safety. Allen also was injured on the play in question after chasing down a loose ball near his goal line and being sandwiched by three Colts’ defenders. The rookie was in on the ensuing free kick after the safety but left the field grabbing his right shoulder.

He did not come back onto the field with his team after halftime.

Allen’s absence left Brady to hold on the Patriots’ extra points. It also forced kicker Stephen Gostkowski to punt late in the game — and the Patriots may have to add a punter between now and the AFC title game if Allen cannot play.

55 comments
MMoney0021
MMoney0021

So all the whiny fan bases that think the refs cost the Colts the game and not the 4 interceptions and 200+ yards rushing yards given up is not are you also complaining about the pass interference on 3rd and long tonight where Wes Welker was interfered with on a ball that was overthrown by about 10 yards? 17-7 game and SD would have gotten the ball back with some momentum.  Must have missed that one though right?  Of you just ignore that one because its not the Patriots?  PLEASE.  


The 2 best teams advanced and are playing for the AFC Championship.  DEAL WITH IT.

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

Speaking of bad calls - too obvious.  Patriots' have refs wrapped up - are they afraid of Belicek?  Want to treat Brady special?  Whether or not it would have changed the outcome, the win has an asterisk for me.  Just plain ol' dumb reffing with chicken poop in their eyes.


DominicDomino
DominicDomino

Love that PUNT on 4th and 1 down by 21 with 10 minutes to go.  Brilliant.

Mark20
Mark20

43-22. "Bad calls won the game for the Pats." Cue sounds of babies crying. You don't lose that badly from a couple of bad calls. Incompetence and a superior opponent cause you to lose like that. "Indy is going to upset the Pats". Right

Scramble
Scramble

If you don't call penalties on the Patriots they can beat anyone.

Matthew W
Matthew W

Luck hasn't been the same since Reggie Wayne went down with injury. When you lose your #1 receiver, its not as easy to move the ball especially when you have no running game.

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Luck made quite a few bad throws but some of the calls in this game were ridiculous. Guess we know who Roger wanted to advance.

UnishowponyWherebeef
UnishowponyWherebeef

Fourth down: Dan Dierdorf's comments during the bad snap/safety.


It's difficult to understand what Dierdorf was thinking when he rambled on and on about how Allen should have fallen on the ball on the two yard line instead of swatting the ball out of the end zone. "That's points he's giving the Colts". 


So instead of giving the Colts a 1st and goal at the 2, the Colts received 2 points and got the ball back. Luck then threw an interception on the ensuing drive.


So Mr. Dierdorf, what is a better score from the Patriots' perspective:


21-12 (with the safety) 


or 


21-17 (with the likely touchdown)?

DanaCaldwell
DanaCaldwell

The ground attack was relentless old smash mouth pulverizing, wearing down Indy's D and the defense showed some attitude. it was very 2001-ish.


But the one part that popped out to me was Collins... Where the hell did he come from? 

Looks like Belichick was holding back his secret weapon. You don't need Spikes when Jones, Collins and High tower are generating that kind of pressure. 


This is called using your strength and not being cute. Nothing fancy... Just tough.

John64
John64

Gee... I guess the Patriots must have "cheated" again...  smh...

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

@DonTheGreen  How did those calls work out for the Patriots in NY, Carolina and Miami this year?  Do you see me complaining?  NOOO and those calls if we are going to nit pick officiating cost New England the chance to be hosting Denver this week.  But if we truly are the better team we should beat them there anyway.


Its always "the refs", "spygate" or some other whiny excuse from the 31 other fan bases that HATE the Patriots because of how successful they are.  Just sit back and appreciate greatness.  8 AFC Championships in 13 seasons for the Brady led Pats (and thats including his missed 08 season).  

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@DonTheGreenYou guys come up with this whining, paranoid stuff every time that the Pats win.  Is analyzing the actual football too much for your brain?  By the way, if NE has the refs wrapped up, it is not working, as it has been nine years since they won the Super Bowl.

American
American

@DonTheGreen5 penalties called on Pats; 2 called on Colts. There may have been some poop in the refs eyes, but not when watching the Pats. Here's your wambulance.

**** all you want.

Scramble
Scramble

@Mark20Bad calls alter the outcome of the game and prevent one team from tying the other. Just look at super bowl forty.

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

@Scramble Or you could actually watch the game and see that 4 turnovers for Indy is what cost them the game.  But blame the refs or hell even spygate if it makes you feel better.

salvaje50
salvaje50

@ElvisHitler On the first Colts TD drive there was an obvious hold on the Colts LT that was not called on 3rd and long.

American
American

@ElvisHitlerWaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Colts lost because the Pats played an excellent game. MonsterZero is right....the only call the refs missed on the Pats was a tripping call.

Monsterzero
Monsterzero

@ElvisHitler: I was waiting for the 'Patriots won because the refs are in their pocket' comments. They missed the tripping call. That's it. If anything the Colts got away with way more crap.

bserious
bserious

@UnishowponyWherebeefWhere exactly did you see the punter trying to get a safety?  It was just dumb luck that it worked out better for the Patriots, not the result of any clear thinking on the punter's part.

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

@UnishowponyWherebeef He was referring to the fact that the punter was trying to recover the ball at the 2 yard line and not trying to knock the ball out of the end zone.  The hit on him jarred the ball loose and the defender actually swatted it out of the back of the end zone.  The Patriots got lucky with that outcome.  It would have been smart if the punter just booted it out of the back of the end zone but since that is not what happened, Dierdorf was actually correct.

ianforbes
ianforbes

@UnishowponyWherebeefI was thinking the exact same thing. Even if the Colts got the ball at the 2 at ended up kicking a FG, that's still 3 points. The safety was the best outcome. Hope Dierdorf enjoys retirement.

pvs
pvs

@DanaCaldwell I doubt we will see Spikes in a Pats uniform next season.....Jamie Collins is the all-around LB the Pats need on defense. Spikes may be the best at stuffing the run but he is a one dimensional 2 down player who is a big liability in pass coverage.

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

@John64 Guess you didn't see that bs pass interference call on 3rd down. Ended up leading to a TD and a definite momentum swing.

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

@JoeCabot @DonTheGreen So who are "You Guys"?  I'm a Cowboys fan.  Don't like either team much.  Just saying what I'm seeing.  Like a late hit, to the head, on Luck.  Against Brady, definitely a call.  You Guys, I mean Pats Fans, can deny.  Pats aren't the team they were 8 years ago (when they lost to Wild Card Giants).  Pats fans think they deserve a ring.  Hopefully a fair game with Brady and Manning next week.  


JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Scramble You could review film of every NFL game every played and find fault with the refs.  The game is physical, intense, and extremely fast, and things will get missed and bad calls will be made.  It happens to both teams, so instead of continuing to beat the extremely dead horse, it may be time for you to face reality and get over it.

Scramble
Scramble

@Mark20@ScrambleYou take the ball from one team and keep giving it back to the other they will eventually run up the score.

historiskull
historiskull

@ChrisMcmeeken @Matthew W Buffalo, Miami, Jets... twice each right? Those teams stink!! Denver is in a division where 3 teams made the playoffs!! And who do they play??? a surging SD not up and down Indy. I know, the playoffs match ups are about seedings.  


Remember when Buffalo went to four SBs?? They were in the same position as the Pats nowadays... 6 easy games in the division to help get into the playoffs and any help (e.g., fumble that wasn't called in the championship against the Raiders, spying, etc.) make the Pats path much easier than everyone else's.

bserious
bserious

@salvaje50@ElvisHitlerah, a missed holding call in an NFL game, obviously that could only happen as a result of a conspiracy run by the head of the league.  I mean, it's so rare to see a missed holding call, the only explanation is there must an outside force controlling the refs' whistles when you see it happen.

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

@American @ElvisHitler I saw two personal fouls in the 3rd quarter.  Meaningful, would have kept drives going.  Pats got lucky on 'em.  Could have turned things in a big way.

zonkeriah
zonkeriah

@ElvisHitler @John64 Um, pal? That is big time weak. This game was decidedly decided on the field. No amount of crying and whining is going to change that. 

John64
John64

@ElvisHitler  Really? Crying about penalties? Yeah, and without that, it would've been 36-22 instead of 43-22.  Waaaahh.  Get over it, crybaby.  

bserious
bserious

@DonTheGreen@bserious@JoeCabotHeh, yes Don, we feel terrible about the team's success, because we all know that if not for refs being part of the secret conspiracy, the Pats wouldn't win more than 2 or 3 games a season.  We all know that this is not something made up by jealous fans who can't accept that the Pats have been consistently good, better than their team, for a long time, but instead is an objective view that totally stands up to logical scrutiny.  We all feel terrible when we see a fan mention this fact, because we know that if not for the hidden hand of the commissioner holding down that fan's team, then that team would win as consistently as the Pats have, even if it didn't have any help from the refs like the Pats get.

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

@American @DonTheGreen @JoeCabot Ouch, American.  Got me at a sore spot.  But it sure is fun watching games that don't mean a lot to me.  Yep, I'm a sore loser.  But show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.  Still, next week Pats vs Broncos should be classic.  Go Romo!

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

@John64 @DonTheGreen Oh Adolph, don't be like that.  It's just a game, right?  I mean, if you get a win.  But your avatar kind of makes me think you'd do anything to rid yourself so you can be superior.

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

@bserious @DonTheGreen @JoeCabot This is fun.  I was thinking about a pass interference that gave Pats a win, well, helped them.  Yes, I'm a sore loser.  I want the Cowboys to win a SB.  Missing the good ol' days.  But don't you kind of feel bad because you had help from the Refs?  It's ok.  Admit it.

bserious
bserious

@DonTheGreen@JoeCabot "who are "You Guys"?" you ask? All the people like you who claim things like "Patriots' have refs wrapped up", you're hardly unique.  You may be saying what you're seeing, but you're only seeing what you want to see, and ignoring the things that happen in front of your eyes that you don't want to see, it's call confirmation bias.  The only mistakes you pay attention to are mistakes that go against the Pats' opponents, if the Pats are ever hurt by a call, you laugh in the moment, and then forget that it happened, only remembering calls that go in the Pats' favor.


As for Pats fans thinking they "deserve" a ring, first off, isn't it odd that fans of a team think their team is the best; I suppose fans of other teams don't think like that, not in Seattle, San Fran, Denver, Dallas, Indy, etc; and second, a lot of Pats fans have actually been thinking this season the team has too many holes to win it all this season, and a Superbowl win is unlikely, so it would be a bit of a surprising bonus if it were to happen.  But seeing as the reality doesn't fit in with what you want to believe, you'll ignore the stuff you don't like, and just believe what you want to believe, .

John64
John64

@DonTheGreen  Just shut up already, whiny. LOL... go ahead and put your own personal "asterisk" on that game. I'm sure that will have a huge impact... 

American
American

@DonTheGreen@JoeCabotNo, Pats fans WANT another SB ring. They do NOT think they DESERVE one. Want some cheese with your w(h)ine? Maybe if the "Boys got a better QB they might get further.

bserious
bserious

@JoeCabot@ScrambleAh, poor Joe, you just don't understand.  When refs make mistakes in other games - and there have been so many high profile mistakes this season that fans and the press have talked about - it's because they're either incompetent, or just human, but everybody knows that each and every mistake that helps the Pats happens because of the secret conspiracy, because everybody knows the NFL refs are all perfect, the best officials in any sport, so the only possible way they could make a mistake would be when they're doing it on purpose.  Those seemingly opposing views are not cognitive dissonance, they're just clear evidence of the conspiracy.

PY
PY

@historiskull @ChrisMcmeeken @Matthew W AFC EAST is the 3rd best division in the NFL this season with only one sub .500 team in the division. The AFC teams are not that bad just NEP overshadows them all.  Give props to NEP when props are due.

Mark20
Mark20

@John64@ElvisHitlerI guess Luck throwing all those INTs, their terrible defense, had nothing to do with losing. You really are another Pats hater idiot.