Pats Switch Up Styles But The Hustle Remains The Same

Spotting the New England Patriots a two-TD lead in the AFC Divisional Playoffs is like giving Barry Bonds steroids. Bill Belichick’s Eveready Gang certainly doesn’t need any extra help playing at Gillette Stadium against an upstart Colts team with a baby signal caller and HC.

Where I watched the game, and who I watched it with was more entertaining than the actual game – a 43-22 Pats pouncing.

The drinks were flowing and media and sports heads came out to celebrate TSL columnist and legendary baseball writer Rob Parker’s 50th birthday party at Walt Clyde Frazier’s in Manhattan. In between gorging rushes by LeGarrett Blount and any one of four “un-lucky” interceptions throw by Colts QB Andrew, I kicked it with black sports writing icon George Willis of The Post (George Willis @NYPost_Willis) and my man Jamal Benjamin, a young video producer at NBC. We agreed that Luck had the juice to muster another thrilling comeback like the one he masterfully executed against KC in the Wild Card game to win 45-44. We weren’t throwing back that many rum and cokes, however, to foolishly believe he would do it again against a team that’s harder to game plan for than a UFC cat who is versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Bakti Negara, Jukendo, Kajukenbo and 52 Hands Block/Jail House Rock.

KC is not New England. Andy Reid is not Wild Billy B. Teams usually need to play a flawless game against the Pats, especially in the playoffs, to prevail. Luck put in some aerial work with 331 passing yards. And he did his usual never-give-up sideline speech with spots of inspirational, dazzling play. He actually had the Colts in striking distance late.

But If I told you Tom Brady wouldn’t throw a TD pass and the Pats would put up over 40 points, you’d make sure I had a designated driver back to Queens from the city. Luckily I did – my beautiful wife Candice – but I didn’t need the assistance because the least-heralded aspect of the Pats explosive offense showed up Broadway–big on Saturday. Running back Blount scorched the Colts for 166 yards rushing and four touchdowns, none bigger than the first two which gave the Pats the insurmountable cushion they would need.

In the process, he became just the second player in NFL postseason history to score more than three touchdowns in a game. Ricky Watters of the 49ers owns the all-time record with five TDs in a playoff game in January of 1994.

Blount’s backfield homie Stevan Riddley added a couple of scores and for the eighth time in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, the Patriots are AFC Championship Game-bound. The Patriots (13-4) will face the winner of Sunday's game between Denver and San Diego.

Belichick once again quietly and highly-effectively laughs at his inferior coaching opposition by taking another team’s scraps (Tamp Bay) and turning him into a golden prime-time player. It was like Blount was personally-anointed by the football gods to be Luck’s nemisis on Saturday. Every time Luck would cut into the lead, Blount would answer with some emphatic and focused foot-work.

“Hats off to the offensive line, because on a couple of those runs, I didn’t get touched, ’’ Blount said. “If you would’ve told me before the game, I wouldn’t have believed it at all. … It feels amazing to know that they got enough confidence in me to go out there and close a game.’’

After trailing early, Luck tossed a 38-yard TD to cut the lead to 14-7 at the end of one quarter, but Blount’s third score pushed the lead to 21-7.

After a 3-play, 80-yard drive cut the Pats lead to 29-22, Blount took a handoff up the middle 73 yards to the crib to basically ice it.

He personally crushed the Colts comeback mojo and was the ultimate warrior, same as when he got it fist-popping with those Boise State players and fans after an opening-season loss in 2009.

The unfortunate incident—and overall behavioral issues—got Blount suspended for the 2009 season by Philly Eagles HC Chip Kelly who was Blount’s HC at Oregon. Some members of the media thought the year-suspension was a bit excessive. It caused Blount to go undrafted by the NFL in 2010, but it didn’t stop his NFL dream and surely didn’t blind the Pats from trading for him when an abysmal Bucs squad felt they didn’t need him. Seems like he’s finally getting a break from Belichick, who you know loves the fighter in Blount. Blount fits perfectly with Belichick’s player-reclamation lifestyle and scrap-heap heroics. The HC who flexes more styles than Wu Tang Clan has put another feast-or-famine football player inside his championship incubator and turned him into a playoff piranha.


JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.