I initially planned to post the Number 6 Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2014 last week, but certain events ultimately took over both the professional football narrative and the mainstream media narrative as a whole, and thus I thought I'd let things play out before getting back into it. But it won't be long until the 2015 season starts in earnest, so we better get a move on here.
The list so far:
20. wins a job - and our hearts - with a spectacular preseason.
19. officially arrives in a Week 6 contest against the .
18. The get embarrassed on national television with a 41-14 beatdown at the hands of the .
17. The Patriots sign .
16. Vince Wilfork and Jamie Collins help the Patriots lock up a 1st round bye against the New York Jets.
15. Chandler Jones blocks a Blair Walsh field goal attempt against the Minnesota Vikings to keep the momentum with the Patriots.
14. Rob Gronkowski officially returns to form as the Patriots destroy the Chicago Bears.
13. Darrelle Revis shuts down Calvin Johnson as the Patriots stomp the Lions.
12. Chris Jones finds redemption in the form of a last second blocked field goal against the New York Jets.
11. The Patriots avenge a Week 1 loss by obliterating the Dolphins to secure the AFC East.
10. Julian Edelman's catch and run helps lift the Patriots over the San Diego Chargers.
9. Danny Amendola hauls in a 19 yard touchdown catch on 3rd and goal against the Jets to secure a lead.
8. Jonas Gray rushes for 200+ yards and four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts.
7. LeGarrette Blount goes off - again - against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
We're almost done with Colts Month - but not quite yet. Our Number 6 Moment transitions away from the running game to give the spotlight to the most underappreciated guys on the roster: the offensive line.
6. Nate Solder rumbles into the end zone off a playaction pass against the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
One of the major storylines leading up to the AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and the Colts was how the Patriots were able to employ some trick formations in order to confuse the Baltimore Ravens en route to their 35-31victory. While the formation was completely legal (it has since been banned, as usual), Baltimore argued that it was both deception and it didn't allow the defense enough time to figure out who was eligible and who wasn't. Regardless, the referees were under strict orders to pay close attention to receiver eligibility as the Colts came to Foxboro on January 18, 2015.
You'd figure Indy would have done the same thing.
A close first half quickly turned into an absolute rout as the Patriots scored 28 points en route to a 45-7 victory. And while each Patriots touchdown was great in its own way, undoubtedly the most memorable was the one that kicked off the 2nd half scoring.
After receiving the 3rd quarter kickoff, New England used a steady mix of run and pass to drive from their own 13 yard line to the Indianapolis 25, the bulk of the yards coming off a 23 yard Julian Edelman catch and run and a 22 yard Blount scramble. Blount kept his legs churning for nine more yards on 1st and 10 to bring up 2nd and 1 at the Indy 16, but in a moment of freak competence from the Colts defensive line, he was held to no gain on 2nd down to bring up 3rd and short. The Patriots, only up 10 points, didn't want to allow such a strong opening drive to stall and walk away with only three, especially after moving the ball so well through both the air and ground. However, there was no reason to believe that Indy could stop Blount twice in a row, so the Patriots once again came out in a 2 WR Jumbo package.
LaFell, lined up to Brady's left, ran a simple inside clearout route that both drew the corner and safety away from the line of scrimmage while simultaneously putting his body in between Solder and Indy's defenders. As LaFell ran his route, both Colts linebackers started crashing the line of scrimmage as Tommy B initiated the handoff. Nate Solder executed a chip block on OLB Jonathan Newsome, who was blitzing from the outside, before breaking out into the flat. Newsome had a completely free lane on Brady and came at him full speed. He was too late, though, as Tommy B sold the playaction and hit Solder for the easy throw and catch. First down New England.
Solder, who made the grab at the Indy 14 yard line, hesitated for a brief moment, as if he expected to get tackled at any moment; however, realizing that there wasn't a single Colts player within 8 yards of him, he turned, immediately covered up the ball with both hands, and started rumbling down the field as the Foxboro Faithful exploded. He made it all the way down to the two before D'Qwell Jackson made it over to him to try and make the tackle, but there was simply no denying the big man. He dove across the goal line and into the end zone for six.
Before Solder even had a chance to finish sliding through the wet turf, Dan Connolly was on top of him, the first of an all-O-Lineman pigpile that was pure joy personified. Every single member of that line was absolutely ecstatic, and didn't hesitate to make their feelings known. It was clearly a touchdown that all of them shared, reveling in a moment where they got the kind of praise and adoration they so very much deserve on every play. And I don't know about any of you, but watching a bunch of big fat guys jumping around and squealing with delight is something that will never, ever get old.
This was the touchdown that kicked off a 2nd half for the ages. It was the first moment that let Patriots fans everywhere start setting their sights on Arizona. It was an awesome play that should have never caught the Colts off-guard to a former tight end who wasn't going to be denied the chance to score. It was one of those times where we're all reminded how much fun football is to play, and any time we can watch the pros have a moment like that is extremely enjoyable. Plus, it's always good to remind those offensive linemen that we love them. So I'm more than happy to include Solder in this list.
Check out the play here.