Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis feeling super
FOXBOROUGH — Brandon Browner tried to keep his composure on the sideline.
He tried to keep it cool, telling himself he wasn’t going to start celebrating until the clock expired on the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
But he felt it coming. The Patriots led, 24-7, after left tackle Nate Solder stunned the Colts with a touchdown reception in the third quarter, and Browner realized his plans were truly coming to fruition.
The Patriots were well on their way to Arizona for the Super Bowl to face the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks.
It’s why Browner signed with the Patriots in the offseason. It’s why cornerback Darrelle Revis signed, too.
All the work the Patriots put into improving the defense was for this moment.
The result? A defense that crippled Andrew Luck and the Colts, holding them to 7 points and 209 total yards.
The Patriots shut out the Colts in the second half, holding them to 80 measly yards.
“It’s crazy, I really had that vision when I signed here,” Browner said. “We were ready for them. We were ready. Blood in the water. I had fun today. It sank in when we were up, 24-7. I was like, ‘Man, we got this.’ ”
This was supposed to be a better Colts team than the one that took the field in Indianapolis in Week 11 and absorbed a 42-20 Patriots thumping.
This was supposed to be a better Luck than the quarterback who entered the game seeing the Patriots in his nightmares.
Entering Sunday, Luck had thrown six touchdown passes and eight interceptions in three games against the Patriots.
It only got worse. Luck finished 12 of 33 for 126 yards with two interceptions and a career-worst 23.0 passer rating.
The first interception came when Revis picked a pass intended for T.Y. Hilton with 2:24 to go in the third quarter and returned it 30 yards to the Indianapolis 13. LeGarrette Blount scored his second of three touchdowns on the next play to make it 38-7.
Revis’s play was the dagger.
“We handled it well,” he said. “I think someone told me the stats right after the game on Andrew Luck. They weren’t that good. We did a great job. We stuck with the game plan. The game plan was very unique and complex. Guys had a lot of jobs to do within the game plan and we stuck to it. We stuck to it the whole week. We practiced it and guys took it out to the game.”
On Sunday, Jan. 18, 2004, another Patriots cornerback from Aliquippa, Pa., Ty Law, wearing the same number as Revis (24), intercepted Peyton Manning’s Colts three times in a 24-14 win as New England advanced to the Super Bowl.
For Revis, who made it to two AFC Championship games with the Jets but failed to advance to a Super Bowl, Sunday’s win was surreal, the work of eight NFL seasons finally culminating.
“Eight years later, for me it’s pretty awesome,” Revis said. “We worked hard for it. It started in April and I just give credit to everybody in this organization for hard we worked and sticking to our team goals. To play in these big-time games and play for the obvious reason, to play in the next game, the Super Bowl, and we collectively as a team, we’ve done that. We made it.”
In the fourth quarter, it was Jamie Collins’s turn to get in on the fun, intercepting Luck as he zipped a pass toward Zurlon Tipton.
It put an emphatic stamp on the Patriots’ defensive performance. It was about more than just Revis and Browner.
Safety Devin McCourty called it the most complete secondary he’s been a part of. It is fair to call it the most complete defense McCourty has been a part of, too.
Since the time the Patriots fell behind to the Ravens, 28-14, the divisional round, the defense had held Luck and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco to a combined 18 of 49 (36.7 percent) for 187 yards with 0 TDs, 4 INTs, and a 14.6 passer rating.
“We came out that Baltimore game, and everybody came back this week and wasn’t happy about how we played last week,” McCourty said. “We had to step up and forget about last week, and we did a great job. Holding a team to 7 points in the playoffs is tough.
“This [secondary] reset every week. No matter what. Everybody gets back on it. It starts with myself, Revis, Browner, [Patrick] Chung, veteran guys who have been in different situations.’’
We’re all over everybody in the secondary because we understand when we play at a high level we have a good chance to win.”