Smith outduels Edge, give Pats an edge

Updated: January 18, 2004, 7:59 PM ET
Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Antowain Smith is going back to Houston on a roll.

New England's running back had been inconsistent all season but rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries, outgaining Edgerrin James, in the Patriots' 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday's AFC championship game.

"It was something that we needed today," Smith said of a running attack that produced 112 yards.

Now he and the Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl in the city where he played college ball.

By controlling the ball, the Patriots could keep Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning on the sidelines.

Smith had gained more than 60 yards just once in the first 14 games of the season but has done that in all four games since then.

James, who rushed for 125 yards a week earlier in a 38-31 win over Kansas City, gained 78 yards on 19 carries against the Patriots as the game-long deficit forced the Colts to pass more.

"I'm never going to say we should have done this or we should have done that," James said. "The bottom line is, I am here to do whatever they ask me to do."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press