LeGarrette Blount wasn’t in the lineup when Jonas Gray and the New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts in November.
The veteran running back was in the final week of his tenure with Pittsburgh Steelers, and looking on as second-year pro Le’Veon Bell rushed for 204 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries in a win over the Tennessee Titans.
It was a win that Blount would not have a single carry in. He would leave the sidelines before it was over. And he would be waived the next day, having accrued 266 yards and two touchdowns on 65 carries over 11 games. But Blount’s journey would come full circle when rejoined the Patriots as a free agent three days later, just three days after Gray tallied 201 yards and four touchdowns against Indianapolis.
Since then, the 28-year-old unclaimed free agent has since gone on to be part of six wins with the team he spent the 2013 season with. The part he played in the most recent one, a 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, stands alone as the biggest.
“He really made some great cuts in not good conditions,” head coach Bill Belichick said in his postgame press conference. “He found yards when there weren’t a lot there.”
In the driving rain at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots turned to the ground with Blount as the driver. The 6-foot, 250-pound back made cuts, missed tackles and powered through on the way to 148 yards from there.
It was just a matter of getting going.
“He’s a tough guy to tackle,” Belichick said of No. 29. “He’s really a quality back, and he made some great runs tonight. I mean, there were several times when he took nothing and turned it into something. And then when we had something, he got it and usually a little bit more.”
Blount had 16 carries for 68 yards by halftime. He had another 14 carries for 80 yards by the time it was over.
He lost yards only once.
Behind a six-man offensive line consisting of left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Dan Connolly, center Ryan Wendell, right guard Josh Kline, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and eligible tight end Cameron Fleming, the Colts were unable to stop the power back. They were unable to stop the same blend of strength and finesse that saw him amass 166 yards and four touchdowns in the divisional round a season ago.
“He did a lot of that last year for us, too,” quarterback Tom Brady said during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan. “He hasn’t had as much opportunity this year. But yesterday was just a hell of a game.”
Blount forged into the end zone on runs of one yard, two yards and 13 yards this time around.
“He should some determination on the goal line to get the ball in the end zone,” Belichick said. “It was really an outstanding performance.”
Blount’s outstanding performance sent him into the Patriots record books. He finished Sunday’s game tied with wideout David Givens for the most postseason touchdowns in franchise history. He finished it just 18 yards shy of his own franchise record. And, in a sense, he finished where he left off.
In a place where it didn’t initially appear that he’d fit, but in conditions where he would.
In Foxborough. In the rain.