Sports

Patriots rout Colts for AFC title

Foxboro, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are headed to another Super Bowl.

This time, the New England Patriots will see a recognizable face on the opposite sideline Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Brady threw three touchdown passes and LeGarrette Blount rushed 30 times for 148 yards and three scores, as the Patriots dominated the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship Game at a rainy Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots will next try to derail the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks advanced to Super Bowl XLIX by rallying from a 16-point deficit for a thrilling 28-22 overtime win over Green Bay earlier Sunday.

The matchup will be an intriguing one, especially for the head coaches. Current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll guided the Pats from 1997-99 before being replaced by Belichick, who has engineered New England to six Super Bowl appearances and three titles (2001, 2003, 2004), all with Brady under center.

"Hopefully our best is yet to come," Brady said.

Sunday's victory was Belichick's 21st in the postseason, moving him past Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry for the most all-time. Additionally, New England's eight Super Bowl appearances are tied with Pittsburgh and Dallas for the most in NFL history.

It was the second straight dominating postseason appearance for Blount against the Colts. In the divisional round last year, he rushed for 166 yards and a franchise-record four touchdowns in a 43-22 home win.

New England, playing in the AFC title game for a fourth straight season, pulled away by outscoring the Colts, 28-0, in the second half.

Brady finished 23-of-35 passing for 226 yards and was picked off once. Julian Edelman had nine catches for 98 yards for New England, which lost the previous two AFC title games, to Denver and Baltimore, respectively.

Andrew Luck was stymied all night, as he connected on just 12-of-33 passes for 126 yards and a pair of interceptions for the Colts, who won at Denver last week.

"We ran into a buzz saw, an outstanding football team. They beat us in every phase of the game," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.

The rain picked up in intensity at the start of the third quarter, when the Patriots expanded their lead. They converted a trio of third downs on the opening possession, the last one from the Indy 16 when Brady found tackle Nate Solder on the left side of the field and he dove into the end zone for his first NFL TD.

Indianapolis failed to pick up a first down on its next possession, and Brady completed his eighth pass in as many attempts in the quarter when he lasered a pass to Rob Gronkowski for a 5-yard score with 3:19 left and a 31-7 margin.

A minute later, Darrelle Revis picked off Luck to set New England up at the Colts 13. On the next play, Blount surged up the middle for his sixth career postseason rushing TD, a new franchise record.

"He made some great cuts in not good conditions. He found yards when there wasn't a lot there," Belichick said. "There are several times when he took nothing and turned it into something. It was an outstanding performance."

Blount scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth, and linebacker Jamie Collins intercepted Luck later in the period.

"Not much went right today. It was a long day," Luck said.

Brady received a standing ovation when he was removed from the game in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo with three minutes remaining.

Meeting in the playoffs for the fifth time since 2003, the Patriots jumped on top early thanks to a mistake. Ryan Allen's 27-yard punt hit Josh Cribbs in the facemask, and Darius Fleming recovered for the Patriots at the 26 only 2:33 into the game. On 3rd-and-inches Blount surged up the middle for a first down, a play that was originally ruled a touchdown, but overturned because his knee was down at the 1. Blount plowed into the end zone on the following play.

Former Patriot Adam Vinatieri pushed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide right with 4:50 left in the first quarter.

New England took advantage of the short field, and Brady's 1-yard TD strike to James Develin accounted for the 14-0 lead with 1:20 remaining in the quarter. Develin caught the ball on the right side of the field and fought off linebacker D'Qwell Jackson before lunging into the end zone.

The Pats, who rallied for a home win over Baltimore in the divisional round, were driving to extend their lead early in the second when Brady tried to squeeze a pass over the middle to Gronkowski inside the 5, but Jackson made the interception.

The Colts embarked on a 10-play, 93-yard drive, that was aided by some crucial penalties. A forearm to the head by Vince Wilfork resulted in a personal foul early in the march. T.Y. Hilton made an amazing tip-toe catch along the right sideline for a 36-yard gain to the 31. An illegal-use-of-hands penalty on Collins erased the Colts from a 3rd-and-7 hole at the 28. Later, Coby Fleener made consecutive receptions to move the ball to the 1, and Zurlon Tipton powered into the end zone with 4:54 remaining in the half.

Edelman went to the locker room early in the second quarter with hip injury, but returned later in the period and caught a 12-yard pass on 3rd-and-5 during New England's next possession. The Patriots moved the ball 65 yards in 15 plays, capped by Stephen Gostkowski's 21-yard field goal with five seconds left. It nearly ended in disaster on a 4th-and-1 at the Indy 4 when Brady seemed to be stopped up the middle, but Develin gave the QB a nudge in the back for a first down. Brady's next three passes were incomplete, leading to the 17-7 advantage.

Game Notes

Vinatieri has played in 30 postseason games, new NFL record, passing the mark of 29 set by Jerry Rice ... The Patriots have never played Seattle in the postseason. The teams last met Oct. 14, 2012, a 24-23 Seahawks home win ... This was the ninth AFC Championship for Belichick and Brady together .. This will be the sixth Super Bowl start for Brady, which passes Denver's John Elway (5) for the most all-time.