FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Only once over the first 17 victories - in the 2001 AFC title game, when he left injured before the half - had the Patriots won a playoff game without Tom Brady contributing a touchdown, either with his arm or his legs.
But, Saturday night, his teammates took care of No. 18.
Led by four scores from LeGarrette Blount, second-most in NFL playoff history, the Patriots rushed for six touchdowns at Gillette Stadium, literally running away from the Colts in the fourth quarter to reach the AFC championship for a third straight year.
Blount's first three scores were all bull runs from 2 yards out, the first coming just 75 seconds into action, and one play after Alfonzo Dennard intercepted Andrew Luck. As a result, New England never trailed, sustaining a lead of at least six points even while the Colts used a safety plus two Luck-to-LaVon Brazill touchdown passes to stay within a score - then eventually busting the game open with a 73-yard burst earlier in the fourth quarter.With that, Blount became just the second back in NFL history to rush for four scores in a playoff game, while Stevan Ridley had New England's two other scores, the latter of which was facilitated when rookie standout Jamie Collins became the third Patriot to pick Luck.