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Rapid Reaction: New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few thoughts on the New England Patriots' 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on sunday:

What it means: Everything, of course. The Patriots are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season. They entered the game as heavy favorites and showed why that was the case with dominating performances on offense, defense and special teams. The Patriots are the third team in NFL history to beat the same opponent by 20 or more points in back-to-back postseasons.

Power running with Blount the winning formula: Veteran running back LeGarrette Blount was the workhorse. His 30 carries set a Patriots postseason record, and of his 148 yards, ESPN's Stats & Information charted 69 coming after contact. Much like they did Nov. 16 against the Colts, the Patriots powered through with a heavy package that included 325-pound rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming as a sixth lineman on 29 snaps. Fleming also had played a key role in the regular-season matchup, playing 37 snaps that day.

Trickery returns: Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots unveiled their "ineligible" receiver package that drew the ire of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh because he felt officials should give them more time to match up. There was a new wrinkle in this game: the tackle-eligible play in which left tackle Nate Solder caught a 16-yard touchdown. When Solder arrived at the University of Colorado, he was a tight end, and he later switched to the offensive line. He is the third offensive lineman in Patriots history to catch a touchdown pass, joining Tom Ashworth (Dec. 17, 2005) and Pete Brock (Nov. 21, 1976). Side note: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been on fire in the playoffs.

Game ball: Kyle Arrington. This could have been presented to anyone, with Blount an obvious choice. But Arrington was given the assignment of covering T.Y. Hilton, and he played arguably the best game of his six-year career with blanket coverage. As a slot corner who was kept on the field in the base defense, Arrington's effort was a key in the Patriots' suffocating effort.

Injuries of note: Starting defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (foot), cornerback Darrelle Revis (unannounced) and receiver Julian Edelman (hip) all missed time in the first half before returning to action.

Stat of note: With his 21st career postseason win as a head coach, Bill Belichick passed Tom Landry (20) as the NFL's all-time leader.

What's next: The Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, and will face the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1. The Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in the NFC Championship Game. The Patriots have not played a game at University of Phoenix Stadium since their Super Bowl XLII loss to the New York Giants.