FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — LeGarrette Blount had three 2-yard touchdown runs in the first half and a 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to lead the Patriots to a 43-22 win over the Colts in an AFC division game Saturday night.
The Patriots are in the AFC title game for the third consecutive seasons and eighth time under quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
"It's just a great achievement," said Brady, who was 13-of-25 for 198 yards. "People have counted us out at times this year. But I think we've got a locker room full of believers."
The Patriots host the game if the Chargers win today but go to Denver if the Broncos win.
Blount temporarily broke New England's playoff record with 169 rushing yards. But on his final carry (No. 24), he lost 3 yards and tied Curtis Martin's record of 166 set Jan. 5, 1997.
He did break Martin's franchise record for rushing touchdowns — regular season or playoffs — and he became only the second player in NFL history to score more than three touchdowns in a playoff game. Ricky Watters scored five (all rushing) for the 49ers in a 44-3 victory against the Giants in the division round Jan. 15, 1994.
Blount spent three seasons with the Bucs. In 2012, he ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns — total. In April, they traded him for running back Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick.
In his first 14 games for New England, Blount didn't gain more than 65 yards and ran for three touchdowns — total. But he went for 76 and two touchdowns in Week 16 against the Ravens, then 189 and two against the Bills to help New England clinch a first-round bye.
"He's got that combination of size, power and quickness and speed," said Belichick, whose 19th playoff win tied him with Don Shula for second all time, one behind Tom Landry. "He can run hard. He can make guys miss, and he can go the distance."
Stevan Ridley rushed for two touchdowns. And the Patriots' six rushing touchdowns were one short of the playoff record set by the Bears in a 73-0 win over the Redskins in the 1940 title game.
Blount's short touchdown runs put the Patriots up 21-3. His long touchdown run made it 36-22 2:05 into the fourth. On the ensuing possession, the third of Andrew Luck's career-high four interceptions was returned to the Colts 18 by rookie linebacker Jamie Collins. Five plays later, Ridley ran it in from 1 yard.
Luck, who threw three interceptions last week against the Chiefs, finished 20-of-41 for 331 yards and two touchdowns.