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Patriots' LeGarrette Blount gashes foes, gushes on 'brotherhood'

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- LeGarrette Blount said "amazing" at least two dozen times. About his offensive line, about his going to the Super Bowl, about his night gashing the Colts defense in this dominant AFC Championship win.

He cheerfully went on about his Patriots teammates. He raved about Patriots owner Bob Kraft. And he wore what could only be called a Cheshire cat grin every time the questions wended their way back to his first less-glorious stop this season, with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Finally, still with that smile, he said, "You're not going to get me cussed out."

And there, right then, begged the magical question. No, not how Blount turned it on for 148 game-changing yards and three touchdowns on 30 ferocious carries. But how Blount, a player run out of Pittsburgh for being ostensibly self-centered, is such a picture-perfect, never-chafing over the discipline, never-deviating from the party line, genuinely-happy Patriots running back.

"This is the best place I've ever been," he said. "Everybody loves each other. Everybody appreciates each other. Everybody supports each other."

"It's just," he said, "an awesome place to be a part of."

This is not the Blount who opened the season. He was arrested during the preseason circuit, caught smoking weed in a car on the way to the airport, while with Pittsburgh's golden boy, LeVeon Bell. He walked off the Steelers' sideline late in their Monday night win at Tennessee in Week 11 allegedly because of frustration over his use (or, more accurately, lack thereof), and then couldn't be goaded back into the locker room by linebacking legend and still-scary Joey Porter. He was cut a day later, he signed with the Patriots right after, returning to where he was a year ago, and a model teammate he's been, not once even whispering about his carries or his role -- or about whether his words could be censored.

Safety Devin McCourty said the Patriots expected no less. There was never a question over what kind of a teammate Blount would be here, he said, that "it was only hugs and welcome backs." And Blount kept saying that Sunday night too, how here he's felt "welcomed," how his teammates make "a real brotherhood," and here, in Foxborough, "you know guys are going to sacrifice for you every play."

On the field, Bill Belichick is creative, as free-thinking as they come. Last week in the Divisional Round win over the Ravens, it was four offensive linemen and an ineligible running back. This week it was six linemen, one of whom was an eligible -- and ultimately touchdown-catching -- receiver. Tom Brady rushing, Julian Edelman throwing a touchdown, the Patriots don't sit in any one playcalling box.

But off the field, there is no coloring outside the lines. Players echo talking points, a fair chunk beg off till "tomorrow" when they're asked to answer a few questions, better to be safe in their silence. As one veteran player laughed this week, "No one ever says anything stupid here -- or you'll hear about it."

And yet, Blount just politely shook his head when it was suggested that this is a place harder to be an independent man, a place with perhaps maybe occasionally tiresome rules.

"It's a formula. That's why we win," he said, obviously and sincerely meaning each word.

Belichick has done this before: Randy Moss. Corey Dillon. Aqib Talib. Allegedly malcontents elsewhere, they're team-first playmakers marching along the Patriot Way here. Blount has said the New England offense suits him better, but really, it's the personalities and the leadership he meshes with better. Watch him: he looks more eager, more into playing for the Patriots.

Now hear him. Sunday night, as he waited out one round of cameramen after another, he said the same things over and over. That "the brotherhood of this team is incomparable." That "we see the owner every day. He comes talk to us like a normal person." And several times, visibly moved as he said it, "they trusted me enough to be a big part of this."

He was as big as anyone Sunday. The Patriots ran power plays all night, pulling the backside guard, the line blocking better than it has in weeks. But Blount ran harder than he has all year too. He didn't delay a single read, he hit the line of scrimmage faster than any back all weekend and one AFC coach spent the night texting his own starting running back, exhorting him to take notice of the purpose with which Blount was running. The Patriots came into this game with confidence and so too did Blount, his one rush yard last week be damned.

His 13-yard touchdown run put the Pats up 30 in the third quarter, and was sandwiched between one- and two-yard scoring runs. His 30 rushes were a Patriots postseason record and he modestly afterwards kept turning attention to his offensive linemen.

"They're the best in the league for sure," he said.

In the end, he couldn't say enough about his teammates. He refused to say why the Steelers weren't a better fit or how Belichick's Super Bowl rings inspire a different faith and following than Mike Tomlin's does. He diplomatically and evenly said, "You just have a different feeling for different people. Here, there are a lot of people you can trust, people who support you 100 percent."

And then he laughed and asked that the questions designed to lead him down another path stop. In this town, he knows there's no occasion for that.

Follow Aditi Kinkhabwala on Twitter @AKinkhabwala.

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