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LeGarrette Blount runs for 4 TDs as Patriots pull away in second half

LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots celebrates

LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots celebrates in the end zone after scoring a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium. (Jan. 11, 2014) Credit: Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The main attraction was supposed to feature Tom Brady and Andrew Luck. But LeGarrette Blount stole the show.

The Patriots running back set a franchise record with four rushing touchdowns -- including a 73-yard score early in the fourth quarter -- to pave the way to a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night in an AFC divisional playoff game.

Blount also tied a Patriots single-game postseason record with 166 rushing yards (Curtis Martin, 1996 playoffs).

Truth be told, Blount wouldn't have blamed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for putting the game back in the hands of Brady. But he's glad that didn't happen.

"Once I get in the open field, they're gonna have to chase me," Blount said. "I didn't think nobody was going to catch me."

And the Colts didn't.

This time there were no fourth-quarter heroics from Luck, who last week threw for 443 yards and engineered a comeback from a 28-point deficit in a victory over the Chiefs. Saturday night, Luck was 20-for-41 for 331 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off four times, twice by Alfonzo Dennard, and sacked three times.

"The one early set the tone for us," Brady said, referring to Dennard's pick on the third play of the game. He returned it from the 29-yard line to the 2, setting up Blount's first TD.

The Colts made it 29-22 late in the third quarter when Luck completed a 46-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton and a 35-yard touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill with 5:01 left in the quarter.

But the single-digit deficit lasted only until Blount broke away on his 73-yard touchdown to make it 36-22 with 12:55 left in the game. It was the second-longest TD run in Patriots playoff history, behind Martin's 76-yarder against the Steelers in the 1996 playoffs.

On the next play, linebacker Jamie Collins made the first interception of his career and returned it 20 yards to the Colts' 18. Just 1:30 later, Stevan Ridley bulled into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, giving the Patriots a franchise-record six rushing TDs.

The Patriots controlled the momentum for much of the game, thanks to Blount.

Before Saturday night, the former Oregon running back probably was known best for punching a Boise State player during a postgame handshake in 2009. But Blount is writing a new history for himself in Foxborough.

"The game plan was to be more physical than the other team," he said.

The Patriots built a 21-7 lead on Blount's three scoring runs of 2 yards each, capping drives of 2, 74 and 75 yards.

Luck was not fazed by a 14-0 hole, responding with a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped by a 38-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to a well-covered Brazill to make it 14-7 with 4:35 left in the first quarter.

After a 36-yard field goal by former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri in the second quarter, the Colts pulled to within 21-12 before halftime when Patriots long snapper Danny Aiken snapped the ball well over the head of punter Ryan Allen, who chased after the ball and tried to pick it up at the 3-yard line. He immediately was tackled and fumbled the ball through the end zone, resulting in a safety with 2:18 left in the half.

Allen injured his shoulder on the play, forcing Gostkowski to handle the punting the rest of the way and Brady to hold.

Quipped Brady, "Maybe I'll try to renegotiate my contract."

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