ReFo: Colts @ Patriots, AFC Championship

With the Patriots trouncing the Colts to return to the Super Bowl, Ben Stockwell reviews a few key players who were involved in the AFC Championship.

| 2 years ago

ReFo: Colts @ Patriots, AFC Championship

2014-REFO-CC-IND@NEThe NFC Championship Game was a case of what might have been for the losing team but the Indianapolis Colts’ defeat to the New England Patriots was more “What on Earth just happened”? The Colts had produced a pair of strong all-around performances to see off the Bengals and Broncos and reach Andrew Luck’s first conference title game, but crumbled against their bogey team in the biggest game of the post-Peyton era.

Following the same script as the regular season tilt in Week 11, save for a different leading light at running back. The Patriots physically dominated a Colts run defense that had looked much improved in the last month. Up front, the Patriots’ offensive line controlled matters in the trenches and with a head of steam built up the Colts’ linebackers and defensive backs struggled to get LeGarrette Blount on the ground quickly as he ran them out of the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Indianapolis Colts – Performances of Note

Cory Redding, DE, -2.1

Breakdown: The Colts got worked over up front and none more so than Redding who had his moments against the pass, but offered no resistance to the power of the Patriots’ ground attack. His wins as a pass rusher against Josh Kline and Ryan Wendell were more than offset by him being all too easily moved out of running lanes. A couple of times he helped the Patriots in that regard by jumping upfield to open running lanes further.

Signature Stat: In two games against the Patriots this season Redding has earned a -8.1 run defense grade, in his other 17 games combined his run defense grade was +2.2.

Joe Reitz, RT, -4.7

Breakdown: The Patriots succeeded where Von Miller and the Denver Broncos failed, getting after Joe Reitz in the passing game to pressure Andrew Luck. After surrendering four pressures in Denver last weekend Reitz got lit up for 10 pressures last night (1 Hits, 9 Hurries), consistently beaten off of his outside shoulder by Rob Ninkovich in particular.

Signature Stat: Surrendering 10 of the 24 pressures charged to the Colts’ offense, Reitz played his part in Luck being pressured on 19 of his 36 dropbacks last night.

D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, -5.1 and Jerrell Freeman, ILB, -6.4

Breakdown: Playing behind an offensive line that was getting driven from pillar to post, the Colts’ inside linebacker pairing offered nothing to solidify the defense at the second level. A high-water mark in the first half with Jackson’s interception of Tom Brady’s forced throw was just about all these two had to offer from this game in a positive regard. Freeman added a pair of missed tackles and neither player looked capable of consistently shedding blocks to stem the tide that game roaring at them from LeGarrette Blount.

Signature Stat: As one of these two goes so the other tends to follow. This was the fourth time this season that Jackson and Freeman have earned overall grades of -2.0 or below in the same game.

New England Patriots – Performances of Note

LeGarrette Blount, RB, +5.3

Breakdown: For Jonas Gray in Week 11 read LeGarrette Blount last night. Just as Jonas Gray wore down the Colts’ defense in mid-season with persistently powerful attack so Blount consistently ground them down last night as he did in the divisional round last season. Collecting nearly 3 yards per carry after first contact, Blount worked the Colts over after contact without forcing an extreme number of missed tackles, simply winning and driving almost every contact that little bit extra down the field to keep the offense chugging forwards.

Signature Stat: In his two playoff winning performances over the Colts, Blount has averaged 3.3 yards per carry after contact, breaking eight tackles along the way.

Darrelle Revis, CB, +3.6

Breakdown: Just as the Patriots’ ground game has dominated in two games against the Colts this year, so has Revis been shutdown on the defensive side of the ball. Targeted only twice last night, he broke up one deep ball for Donte Moncrief and snagged only his third interception of the season, baiting Andrew Luck into a poor throw late in the third quarter. In the two games combined, Revis surrendered two catches for 4 yards on eight targets.

Signature Play: That interception at 2:24 in the third owed everything to how late Revis came off of Donte Moncrief to undercut T.Y. Hilton with Luck thinking that no one was covering Hilton in the flat.

Josh Kline, RG, +2.5

Breakdown: There were some struggles from very early on in pass protection for Kline but he more than made up for that with strong and consistent work as a run blocker. Only playing due to an injury to starting center Bryan Stork, Kline took full advantage with the sort of performance he produced in his last start against the Bills in Week 17. Whether at the line of scrimmage against Arthur Jones or the second level against Jerrell Freeman, Kline won the majority of his matchups in the run game last night.

Signature Play: One of many forays to the second level, Kline worked up to seal Jerrell Freeman on the final play before the two minute warning in the first half (Q2, 2:15) to spring a 9-yard gain for Blount.

PFF Game Ball

Colts-Patriots used to be about the quarterback narrative, but for the third time in a row it was about the physicality of the Patriots’ offensive line and their running back, this time LeGarrette Blount, driving the Colts out of the game.


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Jason Williams

    OMG that was an ugly game. What a second half by the Patriots. Sadly, I think winning a game like that does nothing to help them get ready for the Seahawks.

    • Tim Edell

      So winning a close nail biter would help them get ready for the Seahawks??? Oh Goodness

    • Antti Vanhanen

      The Patriots don’t control who they play against, but they control how well they execute. And they executed extremely well in all three phases of the game. In what universe does that not help them get ready for their next game?

      • Jason Williams

        I think (but don’t have time to enumerate) that there are plenty of examples of teams that played poor competition in the championship game, only to go on and lose the Super Bowl.

        The one that jumps to mind is the Raiders in 02 who played a really “lucky to be there” Titans team and just annihilated them. I think there was only 1 week between Conference Championship and the Super Bowl that year and the Raiders were just clearly not ready for how fast the Bucs secondary was.

        I think the Colts and the Seahawks are in seriously different grades.

        • Chris from the Cape

          With the colossal missteps, drops and injury to Rodgers, if the Seahawks play like THAT they would be fortunate to BEAT the Colts.

  • Jay

    A pass rush in New England? I was amazed. If that defense gets pressure on the QB that secondary is nearly impossible to penetrate.

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    I guess throw the ball and stop the throw still doesn’t work- not against the hoodie at least.

  • Marcus

    I think the pats are a tough matchup for Seattle. Their secondary is solid and might shut down the Seahawks big play passing attack. Add arguably the greatest coach of all time for the pats and we’ll see what he has in store. Has the makings of a great superbowl.

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    Deflate-Gate shows that even the Pats knew Brady wasn’t going to win this game through the air.

  • Izach

    What happened to andrew luck? I couldn’t watch the whole game but stats looked horrible and the few plays I did see luck looks very bad. Liked to know what really happened

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      Boston can continue to laugh it off but it is hard to keep a deflated ball spinning. The Colts weren’t going to win any way without stopping Blount.

    • Dohkay

      He led a 93 yard drive for a TD after a Brady redzone INT to cut the lead to 14-7 in the second quarter. His defense then allowed a TD and a FG at the end and beginning of the half to make it 24-7. Game was pretty much over at that point as Indy couldn’t stop NE in the second half. Not Luck’s finest game but it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

      • Chris from the Cape

        I believe Luck’s line in the 2nd half was 8-22 for 35 yards and 2 Ints. No, not Luck’s finest game.

        • Dohkay

          If you become one-dimensional against NE it’s going to be a long day. Like almost every QB who falls behind in Foxboro with no semblance of a running game.

  • Guest
  • Football

    Everyone in America will root for Brady to destroy the Seahawks.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      LOL. Not a fan?
      So tell me. Were you deflated in last night’s game?

  • rogue

    I noticed Edelman’s minus 1.2 Run grade on his only run of 12 yards. It’s good to see PFF takes fumbling seriously. Good call.