Great afternoon of football. Suddenly, none of the teams the Pats have played this year look very good. The Falcons, Jets, and Broncos all lost. The Jags won, giving the Colts a third quality win.
That was the single most meaningless paragraph I've every typed.
The Steelers also went down leaving the Bengals firmly in control of the AFC North with a one game lead and tiebreakers over the Steelers and Ravens.
- The Pats win the toss and defer because they are smart. The Colts open with the TE offense we haven't seen in some time. The Colts run, and dump off twice and punt. Great move by the Pats to kick first. Nice punt by McAfee.
- Brady misfires completely on third and short. He had Watson 'openish' on a tight angle, but couldn't find him. Punt. Rushing fair catches inside the 10.
- Indy's second drive starts out well with a big play to Clark for 25 yards, getting the Colts out of the shadow of the endzone. Later, Manning utterly dupes Belichick into a stupid challenge by trying to quick snap after a great sideline grab by Wayne. On third and 11 down tight, Manning hits Addai on a sweet screen. The J'Addai Master takes it home for the touchdown. 7-0 Indy. 90 yard drive.
- The Pats start at the 27. Three runs make for a first down. A blown coverage on the next play leads to a huge gain to Moss. It's still unclear who if anyone was supposed to be covering him. Two plays later the Pats bang it in for a touch down. Frustrating because you don't know who to hang it on. Someone wasn't lined up correctly. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to have someone defend Randy Moss.
- Charlie Johnson gives up a QB hit on third down. Manning had Brown breaking open, but CJ couldn't protect. Manning is hit as he throws and the ball sails wide. Short punt means good field position for the Pats.
- Faulk starts the drive with a big run as Powers wipes out the safety for a broken tackle. The Pats then convert a HUGE third and nine, as Brady faces NO PRESSURE AT ALL. Moss finds the hole in the zone for the first down. The first quarter ends with the Pats facing a massive third and four. Defensively, Indy hasn't come within shouting distance of Brady. That's the story of the game right now. 7-7 after 1.
- The Pats convert another first down, and after two plays, they faced third and goal from the 4. Indy fakes the blitz, and Mathis knifes through for a HUGE sack, forcing the Pats to take the field goal. First time today Indy put any pressure on Brady. 10-7 Pats.
- Another huge kickoff by the Pats starts Indy out at the 20. Indy goes three and out as Brown has no room to run and the corner beats Garcon to the ball forcing an incomplete pass on third and 3. The only brightside is a nice punt. Barf.
- Touchdown bomb to Moss. Bethea can't make the play. Moss is the greatest player in football when he wants to be. Again, I'm not sure why there's no corner playing Moss. Awful strategy. 17-7 Pats. Someone needs to rethink something. It would be one thing if Moss was beating our young corners. Instead, no one is covering him at all. Larry Coyer needs to rethink whatever it is he thought he was doing when he designed this game plan. This is 100% a coaching problem.
- Collie starts off the drive with another OPI call. The drive ends with a rusher coming unblocked up the middle on third down for a sack. As I am want to say, "This game is going the wrong way". The Pats start on the wrong side of the 40. Indy looks horribly outcoached at this point. The defense needs a stop and soon, or I'll have to start chanting "FRAUD! FRAUD! FRAUD!". The crappy O line play, I expected. The bizarre "let's single cover Randy Moss with a safety"...that I didn't see coming.
- The Indy defense is utterly lost. It's big pass play after big pass play. Melvin Bullitt is out of position on virtually every play. This is perhaps the worst job of game planning by a DC I have ever witnessed. Brady just avoids a sack and throws a TD. Incredible play by him. 24-7. Side note: every time they spotlight Powers on Moss, he's doing a good job. Why on earth then were there two separate plays where no corner lined up on him?
- The offense responds (finally) by moving the ball. Wayne shows up large and Indy puts up 7, as if just to remind the Pats they aren't going away. If you had told me we'd score 14 points in the first half, I'd have been thrilled. The O essentially fine, but the defense looks lost. 24-14, Pats.
- Finally, a great stand by the D. Three incomplete passes, including some incredible coverage on third down. Brady faces heat from Mathis and throws it away. Indy gets the ball at the 25 with a chance to get back in the game. The problem is that if they don't score here, they'll face a two on none with the possessions for the Pats.
- The drive starts at the 25 with Frenchy dropping a huge gainer. The drive never recovers thanks in part to a false start by...Garcon. Three and out. The Pats will probably be up 24 points before Indy ever gets the ball back.
- Massive stand by the D as Mathis causes havoc. Indy blitzes on third down, and Mathis actually made a stop downfield. He's having a huge game. Indy has 1:36 and a timeout. 3 points here are essential. It feels like the storm might be weathered if you can go to the half down just one score.
- Indy slides upfield, but the drive stalls as Brown picks up a penalty and Collie drops a perfect pass. The rookies have not been ready for prime time tonight.
Well, that sucked. As bad as it was, it felt like Indy had the chance to get back in the game as the defense stiffened late, but there have been just too many mistakes. This is why I said last week that Caldwell had to pass the "Big Game" test. Indy hasn't looked very well prepared tonight. Maybe that's unfair, but the young guys (with the very notable exception of Powers) have looked overmatched. Brown, Garcon, and Collie all picked up penalties. Garcon and Collie had killer drops that would have put the Colts in position to get points. The Colts have to make some serious adjustments on defense in the second half. It's not over yet, but it still feels like a game that could get out of hand. I hope everyone who hates Addai and thinks the Colts don't need Gonzo and Bob Sanders watched this half of football.
- The key drive of the game starts at the 27 for the Pats. The Colts do a better job getting pressure on Brady, but the run game gashes the Colts. Finally, Bethea makes the play of the night as Brady throws an awful pick in the endzone. Bethea made the pick, but Jennings had the angle anyway. Huge play and the Colts stay alive.
- Wayne keeps the Colts ensuing drive alive with a sick-ass catch on third down, but Manning returns the favor by throwing a horrible pass that is picked. The ball comes out of Manning's hand flat, and it never has a chance. Bizarre.
- The Pats pick up an easy third and short early in the drive, and from there it was a case of "Hot Knife, meet Butter". The Colts act as though they've never seen a run game before, and the Pats move down the field with ease. They faced another third and short around the Colt 14, converting it with little trouble. But once again, the Colts D comes up large, forcing a fumble at the goal line. Brackett recovers. Wow.
- At this point, there's no use blaming the defense anymore. The offense has had its chances to cut the lead under 10, but simply hasn't responded. Manning faces tough third and 5s and 6s on every play. Again the drive putters out as Addai can't make a tough sliding catch. Welker returns the punt inside the 10. Feels like game over. This team simply isn't good enough right now. There are just too many bad players are too many key positions.
- Touchdown Moss. Tim Jennings falls down. 31-14. Randy Moss is the story of this game. 167 yards 2 TDs.
- Nice drive to answer the Pats. Indy scores quickly as Frenchy makes a play. The Colts finally did what they needed to do about five drives ago. They passed to Clark, ran the ball effectively, and Manning hit Garcon for a 29 yard score. The game is back to a 10 point game. This has been a frustrating, uphill kind of night. The D has to make a play...and now.
- The D got them to a key third down, and on it Brady throws to Moss covered by Tim Jennings. Welcome to my nightmare. Jump on in the water is warm. In my version of hell, every WR is Randy Moss and I'm a DC forced to cover him with a fistful of Jennings. Mathis comes through large with another strip sack, but the ball bounces the Pats way. On third and 10 he hits Brady again, and the ball flutters free. Robert Mathis has been everywhere tonight. Once again, Indy has the chance to make it a one score game.
- Another duck pick. Wow. Awful. Wayne runs one way, Manning throws the other. Someone effed up. The throw looked bad anyway, so I'm sticking it on Manning.
- The Pats waste a bunch of time and pick up a field goal. The Colts still have time for a cosmetic TD, but even if this winds up a 6 point game, it wasn't as close as the score. This isn't a case of injuries killing this team. They've played most of the year without Hayden and Gonzo. This IS the team that won 8 games. THIS is the team that has to improve.
- We have a Collie sighting. The rookie makes a couple of catches and picks up a key interference penalty as the Colts zip downfield and Addai punches it in. Though it is utterly insane, Indy cuts the lead to 6 points with 2:23 to play. They have three timeouts and the two minute warning left. I'd onside kick. You've given up 34 points. There isn't much chance of getting a stop.
- Caldwell opts for the long boot, and it goes out the back of the endzone. I know the chances of getting an onside kick are less than 10%, but still. I feel like the odds of stopping this drive w/o a first down are that low too.
- First down: Stop. Timeout. Second down: pass to Welker. Time out. It comes down to third and two. That's not a good down/distance for Indy.
- Third down: BLITZ! POWERS! PUNT! HOLY CRAP!
- NE lining up to go for it. Awesome coaching. HOOOO! JUGGLE! Ball at the line! COLTS BALL! OOOOOOOOH! INDY BALL AT THE 29!