Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) passes the ball under pressure from New England Patriots middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (55) in the first half of an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Blowout. We all knew it could happen, but we wanted to believe it wouldn't.
Today, the Indianapolis Colts walked into Gillette Stadium with a tall order to fill. They needed to either get some stops against the NFL’s top offense or somehow match them score for score in a shootout. For a team who has been outscored on the season, that is a difficult proposition. For any team facing Tom Brady and the Patriots, it is a tough task.
This team has been winning despite having some big talent holes in their roster. They have done so in admirable fashion, bonding together through adversity and playing for their leader, Coach Chuck Pagano. Today, the Patriots were just too much. Too much Gronkowski. Too much Tom Brady. Too much Wes Welker. Too much.
There have been games this season where the offense has felt the pressure to score, but none like this. Today, Andrew Luck and company took the field feeling that pressure like never before. The defense stopped the run most of the day but could not defend the pass. No pressure. No sacks. One pass defended (Jerry Hughes). In the secondary, it seemed at times as though every matchup as a mismatch.
Therefore, each time Luck took the field, he was almost visibly bent on scoring to make up for the defense’s difficulties and keep up with Brady and the Patriots. The result? Lots of passing yards, but a 54% completion percentage, three interceptions, and a 63.3 rating. The Patriots harassed him in the backfield with consistent pressure and forced four turnovers in all.
The crushing pressure to score notwithstanding, the Colts started the game on fire. The offense drove 80 yards in seven plays on their opening drive and capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown by Delone Carter. After New England showed that the defense would have its hands full all day with a quick 80-yard touchdown drive of their own, Luck and company scored again. Indy ran and passed well en route to another touchdown, a 14-yard beauty from Luck to T. Y. Hilton. At that point, if one were to turn their television off, it would have been a satisfying game.
With all the momentum and a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, the Colts punted to Julian Edelman, who sprinted 68 yards down the sideline for the tying touchdown. On the ensuing drive, with a chance to recapture some of that momentum, Donald Brown took the ball 9 yards on first down. Things were looking better. But then, Luck, taking contact in the backfield, threw a pick -6 intended for Reggie Wayne to Aqib Talib.
Just like that, in a few short minutes, the team that was rolling with a 14-7 lead was down 21-14. Momentum shifts quickly in the NFL, but this time, it shifted without Tom Brady and the NFL’s number one offense even taking the field. The teams traded field goals afterward, but there was already a feeling that the wheels were falling off. The Patriots offense seemed unstoppable, and the team scored two straight touchdowns without their help.
At the half, Andrew Luck had 159 yards passing, but only a 5.9 average and a 69.8 quarterback rating compared to Tom Brady’s 110.6. The Colts ran the ball very well with 71 yards in the first half, led by Vick Ballard’s 11 rushes for 56 yards. Indianapolis outgained New England by a small margin (230-210), but like many other Patriots opponents, turnovers were a factor.
In the second half, the wheels really did fall off. New England scored 21 unanswered points starting with their first drive of the third quarter and finishing with their first drive of the fourth. Indianapolis had a chance in the third to regain some momentum with a nice drive after the first of many scores by the Patriots. However, down 31-17 at the New England 39, the Colts chose to punt on 4th and 4. The defense still managed to force a punt after pinning the Patriots deep, but the offense failed to capitalize, fumbling on their own 24-yard line.
Brady walked back onto the field and tossed a 24 yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski, who the Colts, like most teams, simply could not cover. If it wasn’t already, the route was certainly on at 38-17.
The rest is history. Luck managed a late touchdown on a great deep pass to T. Y. Hilton, who had six catches on nine targets for 100 yards and Luck’s only two touchdowns. But the Patriots weren’t even finished scoring. Throwing deep and running end-arounds in the fourth quarter, New England managed to pad the final margin to 59-24.
On a day when the Colts ran well (119 yards and 5 ypc), stopped the run (other than Edelman’s end-around, 14 carries for 68 yards, 2.8 ypc), and held the edge in time of possession, none of those things mattered. The Patriots were just too much. Too much Brady. Too much everything. Time to move on. Bring on the Bills.
Every time Z-ski is back to receive a punt I wonder what's going on. Surely there's someone we can pick up off the street that's a better PR than Z?
Honestly, with the players this team has been forced to use on defense, i don't see how they have stopped anybody, much less the Pats.
Outside of it seeming that the defense gave up in the end, I was actually quite encouraged by this game. Take away the mistakes, and you probably had a really close game. Luck threw some bad ones, and I think he'll study and learn.
The wheels really came off, but at least they all came off on the same game. Better like this than Luck having a bad game this week and special teams screwing up against the Bills.
What struck me is that the defense wasn't really so bad. It wasn't a masterful performance, but they were put in more than one bad spot.
Anyone think it's absolutely hilarious that Gronk broke his arm during the process of running up the score? I mean, I don't like to see anyone get hurt (even a patriot), but from a karma point of view...
Well, I hope 4-6 weeks is worth showing up a team you had beat, Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat
@Mattrellen Agreed on all counts. The score was roughly what expected (about 42-30) with the exception of 21 defensive/ST points, which I did not foresee. It's funny, but we did all the things that talking heads say you need to do to win--ran well, controlled the run more or less, led in TOP... and got blasted out of the water.
Unlike my more kind-hearted brethren, I am gleeful that Gronk got hurt while in on the final scoring play of the game (hey, my 5 year-old had a broken forearm--it's an onconvenience at worst) and am only sad that he'll be back before the playoffs. Hey, when you're up by 3+ TDs over a rookie-led team that you have dominated all damn day, why not keep your all stars in there gunning for glory? Especially when you have five other TEs onthe roster)? That's why.
That Talib pick is looking pretty smart as of today. Then again, Butler looked like an all pro last week for us. We'll see....
It'll be great to get to the playoffs (Pitt lost as well, leaving us in slot #5 as of now), but that first round could be mighty ugly.
@Mattrellen I didn't feel like the defense was all that great, but then again, who does after the Patriots? There were some encouraging moments from them. I think they know what kind of challenge they'll be facing as the playoff race heats up.
I agree too, that, while you never want to see anyone getting hurt, it's ironic that the situation never would've happened had they not been exhibiting detestably low sportsmanship.
Seeing Shady Brady throwing deep at the end of the game really didn't sit well with me. It never has. It's tough watching a loss, but it's so much worse when the organization doing the winning is so unlikable.
@MarcusDugan @Mattrellen The defense was terrible! I cringed every time they blitzed, knowing what the coverage looked like. The talent pool is pretty shallow but I still have to question the scheme. Elite QBs love it when the defense blitzes and Gronkowski and Welker thrive in such situations.
This was a game to reset the expectations a bit. I do think there were a few positives to take away but overall, this was a hell of a learning experience. Dwayne Allen was good. Hilton and Brazill continue to show promise. Luck is making mistakes but they are rookie mistakes and I'm glad he doesn't retreat and sulk like Cam Newton.
I also hate seeing the Patriots run up the score like that but I can appreciate Belichick's strategy. He does not go conservative down the stretch and let the opponent get back in the game. The Pats' strategy is consistent and it works. I think Belichick might take it too far sometimes (today, perhaps), but when was the last time you heard someone complain about his conservative coaching?
@bradicus18 @MarcusDugan @Mattrellen On the WRs/TEs, they got some yards, but was anyone else concerned that their ability to catch the ball seems a bit hit and miss? Wayne, Welker, Lloyd, Gronk, etc. all seem to have glue on their hands. I think I saw Hilton, Allen, and Brazill leave the ball on the turf a lot. Some of the balls were not perfect. But it was not just this game. It seems there is a bit of Pierre Garcon in all these guys except Wayne. Maybe that gets better as they mature, but right now I find the drops a little worrisome.