Preview: Colts at Patriots
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[January 11, 2014]
Andrew Luck's first visit to New
England resulted in the worst defeat of his two-year career — a 59-24
beating at the hands of the Patriots in his rookie season. Luck appeared
on the way to absorbing a defeat of similar magnitude a week ago, but he
rallied the Indianapolis Colts from a 28-point second-half deficit to a
stunning 45-44 victory over Kansas City in the opening round of the
playoffs. The improbable win earned Luck a second crack at Tom Brady and
host New England on Saturday night.
Luck has amassed 11 wins in the fourth quarter and overtime in his
first two seasons — the most in the NFL during that span — but now
the Colts have to find a way to take down the winningest quarterback
in postseason history. Brady is 17-7 in the playoffs, which includes
five trips to the Super Bowl and three championships, and guided New
England to an 8-0 home record this season. Brady is working with a
patchwork receiving corps that is missing tight end Rob Gronkowski,
who caught two touchdown passes against the Colts last season.
TV: 8:15 p.m., CBS. LINE: Patriots -7. O/U: 51.5.
ABOUT THE COLTS (12-5): While Luck stole the headlines by leading
five second-half touchdown drives and throwing for four TDs and a
career-best 443 yards, second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton also had a
coming-out party by hauling in 13 catches for 224 yards and a pair
of scores in the second-biggest playoff comeback in league history.
The onus will again be on the Luck-to-Hilton combination due to the
absence of a consistent running game by Indianapolis, which has
relied more on Donald Brown that early-season acquisition Trent
Richardson, who fumbled on his lone carry last week. Another concern
for the Colts is a defense that allowed a total of 20 points in
winning the last three regular-season games but was shredded by a
Kansas City offense that was without its top weapon in Jamaal
Charles for the majority of the contest.
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ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (12-4): Multiple injuries to Gronkowski
and the departure of Wes Welker to free agency has left New
England scrambling to cobble together an effective passing
attack and it's reflected in the numbers — Brady's 25 touchdown
passes and 87.3 passer rating are his lowest since the 2006
season. Converted college quarterback Julian Edelman helped fill
the void with 105 receptions — nearly tripling his previous
career high — and 1,056 yards, but the Patriots have shown an
increasing reliance on sledgehammer running back LeGarrette
Blount, who rambled for 265 yards and four touchdowns in the
last two games. The defense, which lost Pro Bowl tackle Vince
Wilfork and middle linebacker Jerod Mayo to season-ending
injuries, suffered another blow when third-leading tackler
Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve.
Brady, who is 11-3 at home in the postseason, needs three TD
passes to surpass Brett Favre (44) for the second-highest total
in playoff history.
Colts OLB Robert Mathis led the league with 19.5 sacks during
the regular season and had a pivotal strip-sack in last week's
The Patriots joined San Francisco as the only teams to win at
least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons.
PREDICTION: Patriots 27, Colts 23
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