Luck, Colts fall – again – to Patriots 45-7

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Andrew Luck made no excuses after his worst game as a pro came in the biggest game of his young career.

”My play was not up to par for where it needs to be to give you a chance to beat a quality team like them,” Luck said after the New England Patriots ended the Indianapolis Colts’ season with a 45-7 victory in the AFC championship Sunday.

Playing in steady rain from the start, the dome-team Colts (13-6) never got on track a week after upsetting Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on the road. Luck completed just 12 of 33 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was a career-low 23.0.

A few of Luck’s passes were dropped early in the game and the slick conditions certainly made it tougher to throw the ball and catch it. But Luck wouldn’t blame the weather.

”I don’t think it had a negative effect on anything,” he said.

Losing to the Patriots (14-4) is nothing new for Luck or the Colts.

The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback is 0-4 against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and New England in three seasons. He has six TDs and 10 interceptions in those four losses.

Overall, the Colts are 1-4 against the Patriots in the playoffs since 2003.

”It was a great run,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. ”We all believed we had a chance to run the table, but it was a great season and we improved.”

The Colts have advanced one game further in each of Luck’s three seasons. They lost in the first round in 2012 and in the divisional round to the Patriots last year.

While Luck struggled, the defense couldn’t stop Brady or LeGarrette Blunt. It contributed to the second-most lopsided AFC championship victory ever and third-most overall.

”Everybody had to play their best game of the year,” coach Chuck Pagano said. ”It doesn’t all fall on the quarterback. I’m sure glad we got him. I wouldn’t be here talking to you if we didn’t.”

The Colts had a week full of distractions. The team placed backup linebacker Josh McNary on the commissioner’s exempt list Thursday, less than 24 hours after prosecutors filed criminal charges against the 26-year-old.

Reserve offensive tackle Xavier Nixon missed the team’s flight Saturday and was inactive. Running back Trent Richardson missed the walk-through Saturday and didn’t travel with the team.

”We’ve got too good of veteran leadership in that locker room, and we’re not going to use that as any excuse,” Pagano said. ”It is what it is, it’s unfortunate, but it had nothing to do with the outcome of this game.”

Brady threw three touchdown passes, Blount ran 30 times for 148 yards and three scores and the Patriots made it a rout in the second half after taking a 17-7 lead at halftime.

The biggest blowout in AFC title history was Buffalo’s 51-3 win over the Los Angeles Raiders after the 1990 season. The second-largest margin of victory in a conference championship game was the New York Giants’ 41-0 win over Minnesota following the 2000 regular season.

The Patriots beat the Colts 43-22 in last season’s divisional playoff with Blount rushing for 166 yards and four touchdowns. They also beat them 43-22 on Nov. 16 as Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four TDs.

The Colts were porous against the run again Sunday night. They weren’t much better against the pass.

After Luck threw an interception to Darrelle Revis late in the third quarter, a fan held up a sign: ”No Luck In Our House.”

”They did a good job making plays and we didn’t,” Luck said. ”It seemed like they were more on the details and we weren’t. They did a good job of holding us in check tonight, really.”

While the Patriots head to Arizona to face the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (14-4) in the Super Bowl, the Colts enter the offseason trying to find a way to narrow the gap.

”They’re in control of the AFC and we have to do whatever it takes to get closer,” tight end Dwayne Allen said.

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