To pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent NFL postseason history, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12 of 33 for 126 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 17.7 QB rating) needed to play a nearly perfect game on Sunday night. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, its young star had another completely forgettable night vs. New England (he’s now 0-4 lifetime and 0-2 in the playoffs against them, all blowout losses) as the Patriots prevailed 45-7 at rainy Gillette Stadium in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. New England moves on to face the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, two weeks from Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.
Tom Brady (23 of 35 for 226 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 70.5 QB rating) undoubtedly outplayed Luck but more than that, the Pats showed how much of a gulf there is between them and the Colts in terms of overall talent, depth, coaching and game-planning. It felt like Indianapolis was almost surprised to be here and that their upset in Denver last Sunday was all they wanted. Brady set a slew of meaningful individual records on Sunday: he will be the first NFL quarterback to play in six Super Bowls, the first QB to record 20 postseason wins and he also set the mark for most passing yards in the playoffs (move over Peyton Manning).
Luck is 25-years-old and he just completed only his third season in the NFL. At some point, Brady will retire and Luck will rule the JV AFC for years to come. However, this was a powerful reminder that unlike Peyton, Brady is far from washed up and he’s still near the top of his game. He spread it around to eight different receivers including offensive lineman Nate Solder who caught a 16-yard touchdown on another brilliant call by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Conversely, Luck only had six different teammates catch passes and three of those guys (including T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks) only had one reception apiece. Hilton’s incredible 36-yard catch gave him the most receiving yards of any Colt while Dwayne Allen’s four catches led the way for a team that looked woefully inadequate in this type of game.
One of the more underrated aspects of Brady’s arsenal is his “escapability.” He’s always been painfully slow but somehow at this late juncture of his career, he is better at escaping pressure than ever before and even running for a decent gain every few games. Tonight he had a nine-yard scramble and more importantly, Indianapolis was only able to sack him once and hit him twice. A big credit for that goes to the New England offensive line as well. Luck is a far superior runner to Brady but New England limited him to just 18 yards rushing. The Patriots didn’t have any sacks but they did a nice job forcing Luck to get rid of the ball faster than he would have liked, they hit him five times.