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|01-18-2015, 10:10 PM||#1|
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Patriots will face Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX
Tom Brady threw third-quarter touchdown passes to tackle Nate Solder and tight end Rob Gronkowski, and the New England Patriots pulled away from the Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC Championship 45-7 Saturday night.
Brady completed all nine passes he threw in the third, when torrential rains drenched the players and fans, leading the Patriots to touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half.
He ended the first drive by completing a 16-yard pass to Solder, a one-time college tight end who had never caught a pass in the NFL, and then finished off the second by hitting his favorite target, Gronkowski, from 5 yards out.
On the Colts' next drive, Darrelle Revis intercepted Andrew Luck and ran it back 30 yards to the 13 yard-line. LeGarrette Blount scored on the first play -- his second touchdown of the game.
That gave New England a 31-point lead as it tries to advance to the Super Bowl for the sixth time under Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The winner of the AFC title game will meet the Seattle Seahawks, who beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime in the NFC championship earlier Sunday.
Brady was 20 for 30 for 204 yards, three touchdowns and an interception through three quarters. Blount ran 25 times for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 1-yard run for the opening score after a muffed punt gave New England a short field.
James Develin scored on a 1-yard touchdown to make it 14-0, then Luck led the Colts on a 93-yard drive that was capped by Zurlon Tipton's 1-yard run. The Patriots brought the ball to the Indianapolis 3, but Tom Brady couldn't connect on three straight passes and they settled for Stephen Gostkowski's 21-yard field goal.
New England (13-4) played in its fourth consecutive AFC title game -- its ninth under Brady and Belichick. Indianapolis (13-5) is going for its third Super Bowl berth in nine years, but its first since Luck replaced Peyton Manning at quarterback.
The Colts won the title in 1971 when they were in Baltimore, and again in 2006 after moving to Indianapolis.
The teams traded three-and-outs to start the game, but on New England's punt, the ball bounced off of return specialist Josh Cribbs' visor and into the hands of Darius Fleming at the 26 yard-line. It took the Patriots six plays to get it into the end zone.
After Adam Vinatieri missed a 51-yard field goal attempt, New England went 59 yards on eight plays, scoring on a pass from Brady to Develin. It was the first pass the Patriots running back had caught in nine games.
The Patriots beat the Colts 42-20 in November, led by Jonas Gray, who ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns. But Blount joined the team the next week, having worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh, and has taken over as the No. 1 running back since.