In their last three meetings, the Patriots have averaged 43.3 points, 439.7 yards per game and 219.0 rushing yards per contest.
"When you get to this level, this championship level, we have to be able to be a tougher team,'' owner Jim Irsay said, per WRTV-TV's Mike Chappell. "We have to be able to stop the run. We can't turn it over.
The inadequacies were plentiful, from lack of defensive depth, to difference-makers on the defensive line, to a lack of a running game helping out Andrew Luck.
Still, when Irsay made the move from Peyton Manning to Luck, he didn't anticipate being in the AFC Championship game in just the quarterback's third season. But the quick ascension doesn't make Sunday night much easier.
"Tonight it's hard to feel the appreciation, but it's there when you take in the whole season,'' Irsay said. "We're really disappointed. We knew this was a measuring stick that we wanted to get over, and we didn't.
"We just didn't have it tonight, and I know how empty that feels. However, we're not that far away. We're close.''
However, close in the NFL doesn't cut it.