By Hal Bent
The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game 43-22 in a wet and rainy Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Colts fell behind less than two minutes into the game, but hung around into the fourth quarter, when the Patriots finally put them away. Unlike against Kansas City in the Wild Card round, the Colts were unable to stop the power running of the New England Patriots.
It was a total team performance from the Patriots. Big plays were made in the running game and in the passing game by the offense. On defense, the Patriots took the Colts’ running game and rendered it irrelevant, holding the Colts to 69 total rushing yards. The defense intercepted quarterback Andrew Luck four times and held the hottest quarterback in the NFL to a 53.0 quarterback rating.
In light of the strong performance on both sides of the ball (and this being the playoffs), there will be a game ball on offense and another one on defense, as both squads were strong in the game.
There was consideration for a third game ball on special teams for kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who stepped up to handle punting duties following Ryan Allen’s injury. In addition, his booming kickoffs helped pin the Colts deep in their own end. But the offensive and defensive winners truly carried their team on each side of the ball.
In the past decade it would be shocking to think of the New England Patriots’ offense running the ball 46 times and passing the ball only 25 times. This season, with tight end Aaron Hernandez released, tight end Rob Gronkowski recovering from surgery yet again, and the trio of rookie wide receivers that contributed earlier in the season all injured, the Patriots’ offense continues to evolve to fit the parts that are on the field.
Quarterback Tom Brady made his share of big plays, particularly finding wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman for big gains at times. But 13 completions for 198 yards is not the usual Tom Brady performance. Instead, Brady put aside any ego and ran —and even checked to—the plays that gave the team the best chance to win. Brady even contributed on special teams, serving as kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s holder on the final two extra points.
However, the big star was the Patriots’ running game. CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: http://cover32.com/patriots/2014/01/13/guess-who-earned-this-weeks-game-balls/