Luck struggles as Colts lose 43-22 at Patriots

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2014 at 12:34 am •  Published: January 12, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — This time, there was no stunning comeback for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

Just a handful of frustrating mistakes, some missed opportunities and now a long offseason to imagine what could have been.

Luck threw four interceptions and the Colts gave up four touchdown runs by LeGarrette Blount and two by Stevan Ridley as the New England Patriots advanced to the AFC championship game with a 43-22 victory Saturday night.

"I'm just disappointed in myself," Luck said. "I can't commit that many turnovers and have a chance to win against a great team like this."

The Colts (12-6) were coming off a stunning 45-44 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in which they overcame a 38-10 third-quarter deficit in the wild-card game for the second-biggest comeback victory in NFL playoffs history.

They fell behind 14-0 early in this one, but were within a touchdown — down 29-22 — entering the fourth quarter. But Blount, Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots' offense pulled away.

"We never stopped fighting and we had our chances and just couldn't get over that hump," said Luck, who threw two touchdown passes to LaVon Brazill. "The Patriots deserved to win."

Billed as a matchup between marquee quarterbacks — long-time great Brady and second-year star Luck — the Patriots' leader was content to hand off while Luck threw an interception on his second pass and never found consistency.

"He's a good quarterback, man," Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib said. "We just tried to put pressure on him. That's about the best thing you can do is to put pressure on him. And try to make him force some throws."

Luck had three interceptions a week earlier, but led the Colts to their impressive comeback against the Chiefs. The Colts trailed 21-12 at halftime against the Patriots and cut it to 29-22 on a 35-yard pass to Brazill with 5:01 left in the third.

The Patriots (13-4) dominated the rest of the way and advanced to play the winner of Sunday's San Diego-Denver game in the AFC championship.

"We had our chances, man, to make plays and get our offense back on the field," Colts safety Antoine Bethea said. "Last game, we were able to do that, but it was a great quarterback, a great offense and a great team we were facing. We dug ourselves a hole we couldn't dig out of."

Adam Vinatieri kicked a 21-yard field goal on Indianapolis' first possession of the second half to make it 21-15, but the Colts could have had more.

Luck completed consecutive passes of 40 yards to T.Y. Hilton and 16 to Coby Fleener to get the ball to the Patriots 4, but New England made a nice defensive stand to keep Indianapolis out of the end zone.

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