New Eng­land click­ing on all cylin­ders

Brady, Belichick earn sixth trip to Su­per Bowl

Packer Plus - - Patriots 45, Colts 7 -

Foxbor­ough, Mass. — No coach has more post­sea­son wins than Bill Belichick. No quar­ter­back has been to more Su­per Bowls than Tom Brady.

And th­ese New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots are so much more than that dy­namic duo, as the over­whelmed In­di­anapo­lis Colts learned.

Belichick and Brady earned their sixth trip to the big game — and Belichick got his 21st post-sea­son win — with the sec­ond-most lop­sided AFC cham­pi­onship ever, 45-7, be­fore a rau­cous, rain­soaked crowd Sun­day night.

“I only have one thing to say. We’re on to Seat­tle,” Belichick said, adapt­ing the ral­ly­ing cry he re­peated, “We’re on to Cincin­nati,” after a loss at Kansas City dropped the Pa­tri­ots to 2-2.

The Pa­tri­ots (14-4) will face the de­fend­ing cham­pion Sea­hawks (14-4) for the NFL ti­tle on Feb. 1 in Glen­dale, Ariz. The stoic Belichick will match wits with the en­thu­si­as­tic Pete Car­roll, whom he re­placed as Pa­tri­ots coach 2000. The Sea­hawks beat the Green Bay Pack­ers, 28-22, in over­time in the NFC ti­tle game.

Brady threw three touch­down passes, LeGar­rette Blount ran 30 times for 148 yards and three scores and the Pa­tri­ots scored touch­downs on four straight pos­ses­sions after lead­ing just 17-7 at half­time.

“I know we’ve had some ups and downs this year,” Brady said, “but right now we’re up, baby, and we’re go­ing to try to stay up for one more game.”

Quar­ter­back An­drew Luck and the Colts have a long wait for their next game. The No. 1 draft choice in 2012 had the worst per­for­mance of his ca­reer and the fourth rout in his four games against the Pa­tri­ots, all by at least three touch­downs. He com­pleted 12 of 33 passes for 126 yards, no touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions.

“It’s hard to find much good (in the sea­son) fresh off this game,” Luck said. “We had our sights set higher.”

In his first sea­son as a starter in 2001, Brady led the Pa­tri­ots to a Su­per Bowl win, start­ing a run of three cham­pi­onships in four years. Now he and Belichick have a chance for their first in 10 years.

The list of mile­stones is long:

Brady sur­passed John El­way for most Su­per Bowls for a quar­ter­back and tied de­fen­sive line­man Mike Lodish for most by any player.

Belichick tied Don Shula for most Su­per Bowls for a coach and broke a tie with Tom Landry for post­sea­son wins.

New Eng­land tied Dal­las and Pitts­burgh for most ap­pear­ances in the big game with eight.

Brady com­pleted 23 of 35 passes for 226 yards be­fore be­ing re­placed by Jimmy Garop­polo with 3:20 left. Brady went to the side­line where he was em­braced by Belichick. Mo­ments ear­lier, while sit­ting on the bench, Brady was shown on the video board with soaked hair. He pumped his fist in the air 12 times then slapped hands with team­mates.

One play after Luck threw an in­ter­cep­tion to Dar­relle Re­vis late in the third quar­ter, Blount ran 13 yards for the touch­down that made it 38-7. One fan held up a sign: “No Luck In Our House”

Eight days after baf­fling Bal­ti­more with a four-man of­fen­sive line­men for­ma­tion, Belichick called a pass to left tackle Nate Solder that re­sulted in a 16-yard touch­down that made it 24-7 with just un­der five min­utes gone in the third quar­ter.

“We’ve been prac­tic­ing that for years,” Solder said. “The stars were aligned.”

The Pa­tri­ots kept rolling with touch­downs on each of their next three se­ries — a 5yard pass from Brady to Rob Gronkowski, and Blount’s runs of 13 and 2 yards.

“He made some great cuts in not good con­di­tions,” Belichick said of Blount. “He’s a tough guy to tackle.”

All that added up to a shot at another cham­pi­onship for the Pa­tri­ots, who lost Su­per Bowls to the New York Gi­ants in the 2007 and 2011 sea­sons.

NFL in­ves­ti­ga­tion: The NFL is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the Pa­tri­ots de­flated foot­balls that were used in their victo- ry over the Colts.

“We are look­ing into it,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day. “We do not have any­thing fur­ther to add at this point.”

The in­quiry was first re­ported by the web­site for WTHR-TV in In­di­ana, cit­ing an un­named source.

“We’ll co­op­er­ate fully with what­ever the league wants us to, what­ever ques­tions they ask,” Belichick said Mon­day dur­ing his reg­u­lar con­fer­ence call with re­porters.

He said he was un­aware there was an is­sue un­til Mon­day morn­ing.

The Pa­tri­ots have come un­der scru­tiny with re­gard to NFL rules in the past, most in­fa­mously when they were pun­ished for video­tap­ing side­line sig­nals used by the New York Jets dur­ing a 2007 game. Belichick was fined $500,000, and the team was docked $250,000 and stripped of its 2008 first-round draft pick.

Ac­cord­ing to the NFL rule book, home teams are re­spon­si­ble for fur­nish­ing playable balls at all times. Each team brings 12 pri­mary balls, while home teams are re­quired to also bring 12 backup balls.

Once the ref­eree makes sure the foot­balls are prop­erly in­flated, they’re de­liv­ered to ball at­ten­dants pro­vided by the home team.

The league’s game op­er­a­tions man­ual notes: “If any in­di­vid­ual al­ters the foot­balls, or if a non-ap­proved ball is used in the game, the per- son re­spon­si­ble and, if ap­pro­pri­ate, the head coach or other club per­son­nel will be sub­ject to dis­ci­pline, in­clud­ing but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.”

De­flat­ing a foot­ball could change the way it would be gripped by a player or the way it trav­els through the air.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano said he did not no­tice is­sues with the foot­ball. He did not spec­ify when asked whether the Colts had re­ported the is­sue to of­fi­cials.

“We talk just like they talk to of­fi­cials (be­fore the game), we have an op­por­tu­nity to talk to the of­fi­cials about a lot of things, things that you’ve seen on tape like the for­ma­tions we talked about last week,” Pagano said. “Ev­ery coach in the league gets an op­por­tu­nity to visit with the of­fi­cials about that kind of stuff be­fore the game.”

Source:ource: Na­tional FoFoot­balll League Jour­nal Sentinel

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Pa­tri­ots’ Tom Brady and Bill Belichick cel­e­brate their vic­tory.

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