Move over Tom Brady ... well, at least, momentarily.
Six-foot-one, 250-pound running back, LeGarrette Blount, made the New England Patriots front office look genius for acquiring him in an off-season trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Saturday night's divisional round showdown with rival, Indianapolis, Blount rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns in soggy playing conditions.
Luckily, I was able to witness it first-hand from my seats in the front row of section 333 in the upper deck on the 50-yard-line. Blount made the Colts secondary look like a bunch of peewee players -- Blount truly had a man-against-boys performance.
Blount proved his worth to the Patriots after scoring on three touchdowns from two yards out, but in the second half, he further proved that for a big guy, he, too, has speed to work with.
Blount rumbled 73 yards up the middle for a touchdown. On his way to the end zone, Blount shucked several would-be tacklers without even breaking stride.
The former Oregon Duck is no stranger to a little rain, and trust me, there was no shortage of the wet stuff Saturday night. When I arrived at the stadium around 6 p.m., cars were still piling into the pricey parking lots, which, if you have never been there, cost $40 -- cash only, of course.
I, being a Gillette Stadium first-timer, was unaware of that. When I drove down Route 1 in Wrentham through Foxboro, the support of the Patriots by the townspeople is something special.
Foxboro, at least in my eyes, has the makings of a quaint college town where the team means everything.
A college friend of mine down in Charlotte texted me before kick-off and swore he was watching a Pittsburgh Steelers game with all of the yellow ponchos the fans were wearing. On television, the rain looked like it was coming down in sheets, but in actuality, it was not bad at all. The rain all but stopped late in the second quarter, and fell intermittently for the rest of the evening.
Defensively, I was impressed with the play of the secondary who caused second-year Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to chuck four interceptions, one of which was on the second play from scrimmage, and set up the first touchdown for Blount. Aside from giving up a couple of big gains over the top, the Patriots proved that they were the superior team in Saturday night's 43-22 win.
There were some instances that might have escaped the average fan watching at home: like Brady holding for extra points late in the game.
Or, the stunning performance of rookie defensive end Jamie Collins. Collins is a rising-star in the NFL who has ability to seal the edge and is fearless in pass coverage. Collins had an interception, a sack and six tackles. Not too shabby for the understudy of Brandon Spikes who was placed on injured reserve prior to Saturday night's game.
Or, place kicker Stephen Gostkowski taking over the punting duties after Ryan Allen went down in the second quarter when he was injured trying to track down a botched snap that resulted in a safety. Brady joked in the press conference after the game, "Maybe I'll try renegotiating my contract or something for doing more work," after he'd held the ball for the kicker.
In one of my previously published columns, I wrote "see you in January, Peyton." Well, I hate to toot my own horn, but I was correct. Next week, Brady and company will rendezvous in Denver with the Broncos for the American Football Conference title and a trip to the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in New Jersey.
The Brady-Manning Bowl XIV, as it is being billed, should be a dandy, but would we expect anything less from a pair of future Hall of Famers? Brady will surely be a factor Sunday night, but by far, this is the most daunting Patriots line-up in recent memory. Not only can they beat you through the air, but on the ground, too, with both Blount and the always-shifty, Stevan Ridley.
Here's one last stat that'll boggle your mind folks: Brady is 10-4 against Manning in the playoffs, and 2-1 in AFC Title games. Being the history buff that I am, I truly hope history repeats itself -- like it almost always does. Get your chips and dip ready, this is about to be a game for the ages.
Readers, what's your take on Sunday afternoon's AFC Title game? Tweet me your thoughts at Twitter/@EdNiser.