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Familiar foes, with a slightly different cast of characters, face off in the AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday. The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts meet for the third time in the Bill Belichick Era; New England beat Indianapolis 24-14 in 2003 and lost to the Colts 38-34 in 2006.
This is New England’s 11th AFC Championship Game, their fourth consecutive. Tom Brady will play in his ninth AFC Championship in 13 years as the starting quarterback.
Andrew Luck will play in his first AFC Championship Game. The third year player has a 3-2 record as a starting quarterback; he’s led the Colts to three consecutive playoff appearances.
New England was able to stave off a determined Baltimore Ravens team to reach the championship game. They only ran the ball thirteen times for 14 yards versus the Ravens. Relying on the pass, Brady completed 33-of-50 pass attempts for three touchdowns and one interception in the playoff game.
Baltimore exploited the New England secondary for 292 yards and four touchdowns; Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was four of seven on passes thrown 15-plus yards down field.
Indianapolis dominated Denver in their divisional playoff victory. The Colts shut down the Broncos’ offense, limiting Peyton Manning to 211 passing yards and one touchdown. Despite two interceptions, Luck led the Colts to four scoring drives, throwing for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
New England defeated Indianapolis in a regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16. Entering the second half with 14-10 lead, the Patriots scored four touchdowns on five possessions to overwhelm the Colts.
Indianapolis was held to 19 yards rushing on 16 attempts in the game. Luck did pass for 303 yards, completing 23-of-39 passes, with two touchdowns and an interception.
Brady, intercepted twice in the first half, threw two touchdown passes in the second half in a mediocre effort.
Running back Jonas Gray provided the highlights for New England. The third team running back rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns. He hasn’t been a force in the offense since, falling in disfavor with the coaching staff after reporting late to practice. He is listed as probable with an ankle injury for this Sunday.
Indianapolis Keys to Victory
New England Keys to Victory