The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 6, 2014

Patriots set to face Colts in AFC divisional round

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The bye week is over.

Now the New England Patriots can focus on a major challenge.

How can they stop Andrew Luck?

The quarterback who brought Indianapolis back from a 28-point, third-quarter deficit to a 45-44 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card game Saturday will lead the Colts into Gillette Stadium for a divisional-round game Saturday night.

“There’s no question he’s a complete football player and one of the top quarterbacks in this league already,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Sunday.

“He has a great career in front of him, but I think he’s already established himself as a very poised and talented player that can do a lot of things to beat you.”

The second-seeded Patriots (12-4) would have faced third-seeded Cincinnati had the Bengals won Sunday. But they lost to the sixth-seeded San Diego Chargers 27-10. So the fourth-seeded Colts (12-5) will play in Foxborough for the second straight season.

Last season, in Luck’s 10th game as a pro, he threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in a 59-24 loss. He had his fourth worst passer rating of that season.

But Luck has more experience now and an impressive playoff win on his record.

And his teammates kept fighting despite their huge deficit against Kansas City.

“They had a couple losses that they bounced right back from with big wins the following week,” Belichick said. “I think they’ve shown a lot of mental toughness. (Saturday’s) game was about as good as it gets. To be that far behind in the third quarter, it didn’t look too good for them and all (of) the sudden in a hurry you could feel them coming back, or at least I could.”

The Patriots’ secondary has been hobbled by injuries. Two starters, safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, missed the 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills that ended the regular season. And cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington have been playing hurt.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014