Gisele was wrong.
Turns out her husband "can [bleeping] throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time" after all. As "Josh's Mom" noted in our live in-game fan chat [and don't miss it next week, folks] Brady proved incredibly versatile Saturday night. He not only held for punter/kicker Stephen Gostkowski for a successful extra-point try, he steadily guided the Patriots to a 43-22 victory over Indianapolis without completing a touchdown pass.
Brady - and that's "B" as in "Plan B" - was flawless Saturday night. He did not throw a touchdown or an interception, finishing 13 for 25 with 198 yards. Brilliantly non-productive, yet devastatingly effective.
January means many things in New England - cold, snow, stretched credit-card limits, A-Rod season-long suspensions - and this year, for the eighth time since January of 2002, the Patriots reaching the AFC championship game.
Unlike their seven AFC championship game predecessors, this Brady-Bill Belichick production reached the NFL semifinals by literally running up the score on their opponent in the Divisional round.
LeGarrette Blount galloped all over the Colts, scoring four touchdowns and amassing 166 yards on 24 carries. Stevan Ridley, who seems to be running for his professional life every time he touches the ball, added 52 yards on 14 carries and scored New England's other two touchdowns. Your New England Patriots finished with 234 net rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
In all, New England won the Divisional Round playoff game with 46 running plays and 25 passing plays. Sixty minutes of running the ball. Forty-three points. Six rushing touchdowns. Zero passing touchdowns. That's something we all saw coming in August. [Note sarcasm font.]
Rush Hour hits Foxborough.
"It was pretty cool," Brady said. "It make it easy when you hand it off and [they] go 70 yards for a touchdown."
Belichick even smiled - once - when it over, raising his total to eight on the season.
The Spygate Truthers, Full-Time Contrarians, Patriots Haters and Defeatists will desperately try to discount what happened Saturday night. This was, they will say, another Divisional Round opponent patsy. Yet, if we're to believe the prose of the experts and insiders last week, Andrew Luck will be/or already is the next Brady/Joe Montana/Otto Graham. Well, Luck's luck ran out Saturday. He threw four interceptions. Only two were his fault. Tough luck, Andrew. He may well be the best QB in the NFL in five years. But it wasn't his day Saturday night.
Luck met experience Saturday and didn't really have a chance.The Colts fell behind 21-7 with 10:54 in the second quarter and were forced to chase New England all night. While Luck tried too hard, Brady barely burned a calorie, nor was he bruised, dented or broken.
As Detective Callahan taught us 41 years ago:
"A man has got to know his limitations." Especially in the NFL playoffs.
Like Dirty Harry, the Patriots were brutally old school Saturday night. More old-school NFL than old-school Patriots. New England's sinew-twisting, turf-consuming running attack resembled the 1967 Packers more than the 2007 Patriots. It continued an evolution of Belichick's and Josh McDaniels' offense that began against their will with the arrest of Aaron Hernandez and continued with the most-recent injury to Rob Gronkowski. The once-mythical and mighty "dual tight-end offense" that was going to revolutionize pro football just a year ago has found itself dumped upon the ash-heap of NFL history. [See the late New Orleans Saints as well.]
The most obscene example of the run-first Patriots came after Chuck Pagano punted on a fourth-and-one from his own 29 with 10:30 to play and his team down by 21 points. That one whiff of fear was all the Patriots would need to turn Indy's horseshoes upside down for good. The Patriots launched a 12-play, 60-yard drive that devoured 7:42 and ended with a punt from the Colts' 26 yard line. Brady threw just two passes and Blount carried the ball seven times, picking up two first downs.
It was the most lethal non-scoring Patriots' drive since Brady took the knee at the end of Super Bowl XXXIX.
The Patriots have now fully evolved from a team that once desperately needed Brady to load up the stat sheet with 300 yards passing and three or four TDs, to a team that finds itself one away from the Super Bowl thanks in large part to an extra-large running back who was traded from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft pick.
Playoff loot from the Treasure Coast.
Patriots fans may be witnessing the karmatic reparation of the 1985 draft pick swap that eventually left the Patriots with Trevor Matich and the 49ers with Jerry Rice. It's now officially AFC Championship week, so a little hyperbole is encouraged.
New England's offensive line flattened the Colts all evening. And just when it looked the Patriots offense was stalled and the Colts were on the verge of perhaps tying the game, Brady unleashed a play-action 53-yard bomb in the third quarter to Danny Amendola from New England's own 12 that eventually ended with Ridley's first TD scamper. That drive put New England up 29-15 and the hype-machine for Brady-Manning XV began cranking at CBS Central. Here's hoping Philip Rivers and the Chargers find a way to cancel that programming.
The Patriots had 17 Playoff Virgins Saturday night, including Blount, linebacker Jamie Collins and cornerback Logan Ryan. Collins stepped in for the departed Brandon Spikes and terrorized Luck and Colts with three solo tackles, an interception and a sack. Fellow rookie Ryan led the Patriots with four solo tackles. Collins was chosen in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Southern Mississippi and Ryan was drafted out of Rutgers [surprise, surprise] in the third round.
Score one for the Dark Side.
This "Miracle in Foxborough" lives for another week, even if the Patriots may not play another game at Gillette until September. The Patriots are back in the AFC Championship game. All is right in Kraft's Kingdom, even if there's no more Velveeta.
Enjoy this, folks.
As Bill Parcells might say: "This is why you watch all those games. This is why you sweat all those draft picks. This is why you buy all those tickets."
One win away from the Super Bowl.
Just like old times for the Patriots, even if they have an all-new way of getting there.
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