Football fans know Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, Rob Gronkowski and T.Y. Hilton, Darrelle Revis and Vontae Davis. But it’s not always the stars who decide NFL games, especially in the playoffs. Here’s a look at six players – three each on the Patriots and Colts – who could be deciding factors in the AFC championship game Sunday at Gillette Stadium.


Wide receiver Danny Amendola

After catching just 20 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown in the regular season, he had a breakout game in the Patriots’ 35-31 divisional-round win over Baltimore. He caught five passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, also averaging 25 yards on five kickoff returns.

Safety Duron Harmon

With the Colts’ offense revolving around Luck’s passing and some of the top receivers in the NFL, the Patriots likely will use a lot of sub-packages on defense with extra defensive backs in the game. Harmon and fellow former Rutgers teammate Logan Ryan will find themselves on the field quite a bit in key situations.


Offensive lineman Josh Klein

With rookie center Bryan Stork out with the knee injury he suffered last week, Klein likely will step in to start at right guard with Ryan Wendell moving to center. Klein started four games this year, two at each guard position, and was a key reserve in nine others, so he’s capable.


Running back Daniel Herron

He didn’t touch the ball in New England’s 42-20 victory in November, but Herron has become the Colts’ top back in the playoffs. He has rushed for 119 yards and two TDs. More import-antly, he leads the Colts with 18 catches for 117 yards. The Pats must cover him as a wide receiver.

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones

He was inactive for the regular-season game between the teams, but Jones – the brother of Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones – has returned to give the Colts some bulk in the middle of the defensive line. He has made eight tackles in two playoff games.

Kicker Adam Vinatieri

New England fans know all about his postseason heroics; his field goals were the difference in the Patriots’ three Super Bowl wins. He missed only one field goal in the regular season but did miss one in Denver last week. One thing for certain: Patriots fans don’t want him on the field at the end of a close game.

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