FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — This is the reason the New England Patriots signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the offseason. Not only are the Patriots playing in the AFC championship game, but they are facing one of the most lethal passing offenses in the NFL.

Last year, that might have been an issue. This year, with Revis and Browner able to lock down receivers, maybe not. The two bring a physical swagger to a secondary that’s going to need every ounce of it Sunday when New England plays the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium at 6:40 p.m., with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

The Colts’ Andrew Luck has solidified his standing as the next great NFL quarterback by throwing for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns in the regular season, and then keeping it up in the playoffs. He has thrown for 641 yards and three touchdowns in leading Indianapolis past Cincinnati and Denver, and into the championship game.

He’s aided by a deep receiving group, led by wide receivers T.Y. Hilton (82 catches, 1,345 receiving yards, seven touchdowns in the regular season) and Reggie Wayne (64 catches, two touchdowns) and tight ends Coby Fleener (15.2 yards per catch, eight touchdowns) and Dwayne Allen (13.6 average, eight touchdowns). In the playoffs, Donte Moncrief (five catches, 86 yards) and running back Daniel Herron (team-high 18 catches, 117 yards) have stepped up. And don’t forget Hakeem Nicks, who has five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs.

The problem with facing the Colts, said safety Devin McCourty, “is just covering everybody … It’s hard because they have a lot of good players, they have a lot of good weapons and it’s a constant rotation.”

And those players produce in the playoffs. Hilton averages 113.6 receiving yards a game in the playoffs. Wayne is second all-time with 93 postseason catches.


When New England beat the Colts 42-20 on Nov. 16, Revis covered Wayne while cornerback Kyle Arrington and a safety double-covered Hilton. So Luck threw often to Fleener, who was matched up mostly with Browner. The tight end caught seven passes for 144 yards.

That’s what makes the Colts difficult to cover.

“They’re all tough,” said Arrington. “Whether it’s Hilton, Moncrief, Wayne, those tight ends, running backs out of the backfield. Everybody’s job is of utmost important this week. We just try to focus on winning our one-on-one matchups as many times as we can.”

Luck, who is 0-3 against the Patriots and has thrown eight interceptions and only six touchdown passes, knows he faces a difficult secondary.

“They do a great job of taking away your strengths,” he said. “They are not going to let you get easy yards, easy first downs, easy points. Every down is a chess match, a battle.”

Wayne, with 15 career games against New England, has seen this before. “It’s always going to be something different,” he said. “That’s why they’re good.”

And having someone like Revis has been a huge help to the Patriots’ young players in the secondary, especially former Rutgers defensive backs Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan.

“It’s definitely a benefit having a guy like that around,” said Arrington. “He does a great job of studying his opponent. It’s just contagious.”

And the biggest test is up next.

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