FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are back in the AFC championship game because of a dominant running attack and an opportunistic defense.

Oh yeah, and Tom Brady too.

You know, the guy who filled in as the holder on extra points when the starter got hurt.

In a game in which he became the first player to reach 6,000 yards passing in the postseason, Brady’s main offensive roles were to adjust play calls at the line of scrimmage and hand the ball off.

New England rushed for 234 yards and beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Saturday night to advance to Sunday’s game against Denver or San Diego.

The Patriots (13-4) got a 73-yard touchdown run from LeGarrette Blount and had four interceptions against Andrew Luck.

"The way our defense is getting the ball for us and, really, what we’ve done the last three or four weeks (with) the running game has just been awesome," Brady said. "Hopefully, we can do it next week, too."

And if he has to hold again for Stephen Gostkowski? Well, at least he has some experience.

Punter and holder Ryan Allen hurt his shoulder when he raced back after the ball was snapped over his head late in the second quarter. It resulted in a safety and the loss of Allen for the game.

When Stevan Ridley scored on a 3-yard run with 6:18 left in the third quarter, the Patriots went for a 2-point conversion. Ridley ran the ball in for a 29-15 lead.

"The holder was no factor at all. We were perfectly comfortable with Tom doing the holding," coach Bill Belichick said Sunday. "It was more just the strategic plan of either being up by 13 or being up by 14."

Brady did get two chances to hold on extra points after fourth-quarter touchdowns and, as usual, came through.

He said that the last time he held on extra points was in the 2000 Orange Bowl for Michigan. Michigan won 35-34 when Alabama’s try for an extra point in overtime failed. Brady also threw four touchdown passes in that game.

Brady even pulled off a surprise punt on third down in New England’s previous game, a 34-20 win over Buffalo in the regular-season finale.

He does whatever it takes to win, even if it means throwing for fewer than 200 yards in each of his past three games.

After a slow start in his first season with the Patriots, Blount ran for a total of four touchdowns in his last two regular-season games then got four more against the Colts.

His 334 all-purpose yards (189 rushing, 145 returning kickoffs) against the Bills set a club record. The Patriots had 267 yards rushing in that game and 645 in their past three.

Blount tied Curtis Martin’s team record of 166 yards rushing in a playoff game and is the only player besides Ricky Watters, who had five touchdowns for San Francisco on Jan. 15, 1994, with four or more in a postseason game.

"I’m really confident," Blount said. "Those guys in front of me, they don’t get tired. I ain’t going to get tired. And if we’re going to be able to continue running the football like that throughout the playoffs, then I’ll be happy."

Now the Patriots are in their third straight AFC championship game with a chance at their second Super Bowl appearance in three years.