January 13

Patriots Beat: New England keeps finding ways to win

The Patriots are headed to the AFC championship game for the third year in a row.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is headed to the AFC championship game for the eighth time in 13 years after New England used a strong running game to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Patriots running back Stevan Ridley celebrates one of his two touchdown runs against the Colts. New England rushed for a team-record six touchdowns.

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“Matthew Slater is one of those guys, they plug him in there wherever he needs to be and he goes in there and does a great job,’’ said Ridley.

Blount, stolen from Tampa Bay for a seventh-round pick and Jeff Demps (who prefers running track to football), has become the poster child for New England’s playoff push. He scored a team record four rushing touchdowns Saturday and tied a team playoff record with 166 rushing yards. In the final regular-season game, he set a team record with 334 all-purpose yards.

But in a postgame locker room in which he spent at least an hour talking to the media while still in his uniform, he praised just about every other aspect of the offense, especially the offensive line.

Mulligan, the Maine native who threw key blocks on two of Blount’s touchdown runs, said that’s the way it is with this team.

“It’s everyone,’’ he said. “It’s not just one guy. If we were to say (the Patriots won) is because Blount got so many touches, or this guy did that, we’d be mistaken because it takes 10 other guys. Especially on offense. We’ve all got to work together to get that one guy the accolades.’’

In the end, the only accolades that matter fall upon the team. The Patriots will play in their third consecutive AFC championship game on Sunday.

You should enjoy the game for what it is, for what this team has had to overcome.

Of all the trips the Patriots have made to this game since Brady became the quarterback, this is surely the most satisfying.

“I know people have counted us out at times during this year,’’ said Brady. “But I think we have a locker room full of believers.’’

Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at:


Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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