Patriots vs. Colts: Fan Notes from the Game

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots'

    You know what's even sweeter than Victory Monday?

    Victory Sunday, especially when said victory means a trip to yet another AFC Championship Game.

    In true New England Patriots fashion, this team found a way to grind out a dominant win over a very talented Indianapolis Colts team and now sit just one win away from a trip to New York and a shot at that ever-elusive fourth Super Bowl Title. And while I would be fooling myself if I said the upcoming trip to Denver isn't going to be a tall, tall order, the 2013 Patriots are playing with so much heart and determination it's all but impossible not to think that it may not really matter who they are going up against; they are going to rally together and find a way to get it done.

    On to the Fan Notes!

  • I want to say that I'm not going to miss Dan Dierdorf in the booth, but that's a lie. Dierdorf was always good for two or three lines of absolute gold every game, and I hope whoever CBS replaces him with can get as excited by shiny objects as Dierdorf was. Thanks for everything, Dan.
  • I'm not even remotely ashamed to admit that, when this game kicked off, I was sitting up in bed, propped up by pillows, wearing the bathrobe that I hadn't taken off all day, and about as cozy and warm as it gets. To all the fans who sat out in the rain on Saturday, good for you guys.
  • If the Patriots can go ahead and open up every game with an interception that starts a drive at the 1, that would be great.
  • While a lot of the Alfonzo Dennard pick was on Luck, as he stared down LeVon Brazil right from the snap, Dennard did a great job on pressing the receiver and wrestling the ball right out of his hands. Very Tedy Bruschi-esque.
  • That said - New England opening as strong as they did certainly concerned me a bit. I didn't really know how to handle the early success and I had a hard time figuring out what that 0 was next to Indy's name for a while. I could certainly get used to it, though.
  • If you were to put together a time lapse video of all of the headshots of the 2013 Patriots starting lineup from Week 1 to Saturday, it would strongly resemble the ending sequence of Michael Jackson's "Black or White."
  • Is it me, or was the crowd louder when the Pats had the ball than when the Colts did?
  • So...is that Shane Vereen motioning out of the backfield for the quick out route just flat out uncoverable? New England runs that play, undisguised, several times a game for weeks now and it has yet to fail.
  • Tommy B completed a 13 yard pass to Danny Amendola that set up New England with a 1st and goal in the first quarter that was, in my opinion, the best throw he made all year. A quick step up in the pocket, bought another second, and tossed a wet football like a rifle between three Colts to a spot where only Amendola could catch it.
  • Andrew Luck was remarkably impressive on Indy's first scoring drive. That TD pass to Brazil was about as perfect as it gets, and that play was set up by a 3rd down conversion where Luck's composure and arm strength was on full display This kid is really going to be something special. Hell...he already is.
  • Darius Butler has carved out a nice career for himself in Indianapolis. There's a good chance that he was a quality defensive back in new England, but the defense was all just so ill with a bad case of the Suck that year that he may not have had a chance from the getgo.
  • On Tommy B's only sack of the night, he ducked about a second before the pass rush got there. I sure hope that was because everyone was covered and not because he heard footsteps.
  • I also feel like most of Brady's sacks came on third down this year. I'm sure I could take about 45 seconds and do an internet search as to whether or not that's true, but I'm currently eating a muffing right now and hey, you know...priorities.
  • Thanks, Google, for turning me into a sobbing mess with that commercial of the kid trying to get home to his sick dog. You guys damn well better be saving the commercial where he gets home and the dog gets better and I see them playing fetch in a sunny field for the Super Bowl.
  • Let's talk about Jamie Collins for a bit. Throughout the game I got an absolute onslaught of texts from my non-Pats fan friends asking "who the hell is that 91 guy?" And up until yesterday, that was a reasonable question to ask. But holy hell did Collins step it up Saturday and deliver all over the field.
  • In run support, Collins was right on the line of scrimmage and in on the tackle on almost every play. His best run stop of the night came in the third quarter when Donald Brown was trying to bounce outside and Collins got chip blocked to the ground, but he somehow managed to stay on his feet long enough to spin in mid-air and tackle Brown for a loss
  • In pass coverage, Collins was charged with covering Coby Fleener for much of the game, and for the most part, he held his own. He completely smothered Fleener on a 3rd and goal fade route that forced Indy to kick a field goal. He also was able to run stride for stride with Fleener on several sideline routes and force Luck to overthrow him. And on his interception, New England came out in a staggered Nickel package with Hightower showing blitz on the outside and Collins getting ready to stunt behind Joe Vellano and charge up the middle. Both Hightower and Collins dropped into coverage, with Collins following Fleener right from the snap. Luck underestimated Collins' speed and athleticism, leading Fleener up the seam where Collins was able to step in front of the pass and make what was in essence the game-sealing pick.
  • Let's not forget about QB pressures either. Andrew Luck is no small guy, and neither containing him nor sacking him is easy to do. Collins did both, chasing Luck down to force and incompletion, registering two QB hits, and plowing through the middle for a huge sack that stalled a key Colts drive.
  • I wonder what LeGarrette Blount squats...
  • Julian Edelman is an absolute animal. The craziest thing is that one of the knocks against him coming into this season was that he was a bit injury prone. Nobody is knocking anymore. I do wish he wasn't so hell-bent on returning every single punt to the house, as that's how you get hurt and/or/fumble, but if your only criticism of a player is that he tries to hard to score touchdowns, that's a win.
  • On Blount's third TD of the day, which Blount ended up punching into the end zone with a E.Honda flying headbutt dive, I wanted Tommy B to call a playaction pass to Matthew Mulligan so, so bad. If Mulligan does catch a TD this postseason and doesn't do either the Hulk Hogan hand to the ear or give the football a legdrop, I may have to consider my ringing endorsement of him for playoff MVP.
  • When the Colts answered right back to make the game 21-10, I began to wonder if we were going to see another punt all game.
  • It's a new knockout combo from the NFL for the postseason! The injury timeout/field goal/commercial break/kickoff/commercial break quadruple whammy! Nobody is safe!
  • Dan Dierdorf was of the opinion, on that botched punt, that Ryan Allen should have just fallen on the ball and set the Colts up with 1st and goal at the one yard line. I personally would rather take the safety there, seeing as how Indy would almost have certainly scored a TD on that drive and the Hightower pick ended up limiting that error to two points.
  • I can't think of a delay of game penalty ever having that kind of an impact before. Every once in a while, Bill Belichick outcoaches himself, and it happened twice on Saturday. The first was getting cute on that punt, keeping the offense on the field and then making the quick switch to the punting unit that ended up with the penalty and ensuing safety. The second time was on 3rd and 1 in the 3rd quarter where instead of a QB keeper or handing the ball to Blount, New England ran a fullback dive with James Develin for no yards.
  • I'm not really a fan of the Three Stooges impression our secondary does at times colliding into each other and preventing what would otherwise be a surefire interception.
  • Almost every time Andrew Luck had time to throw, he either made a completion or should have made a completion. Really looking forward to seeing him develop.
  • I'm glad to see that Legos have withstood the test of time and remain a popular toy to this day. Had Legos gone the way of Masters of the Universe, Battle Beasts, Balzacs, and, I would have weeped for this generation.
  • "New England just took one of their three timeouts, and that's gonna drop them down to two." It's that kind of insight that we'll simply never get again when Dierdorf retires.
  • Ball on the 35 with 1:16 on the clock before halftime and three timeouts, and the Patriots come out running it. That may be the most concerning thing I've seen all season.
  • When I saw Stephen Gostkowski come out to punt the ball to end the half and before I knew that Allen was hurt, I definitely thought that Belichick had let the whole "if you mess up on the field, I'm benching your ass" thing go to his head just a bit.
  • Hello, Allie LaForce. Very, very nice to make your acquaintance.
  • Aaaaand there it was. New England forces a third down and long, Rob Ninkovich has the QB dead to rights in the backfield, he extends the play with his legs, and converts a huge first down. Every. Single. Time.
  • And who says Tommy B is immobile? Well...everybody But that was some nice scrambling on the Julian Edelman completion.
  • I just realized "on the Julian Edelman completion" is an absolutely ridiculous way to offer analysis.
  • If I was an NFL team executive, I would have a lip reader watching the game live on TV with the phone to his/her ear, and whoever radios the plays in to the defensive captain on the other end. The overhead cameras now get right into the huddle and you can clearly see the quarterback calling out the play.
  • When the Patriots went for two after going up 12, I was suddenly absolutely positive that the game was going to come down to a field goal and New England wasn't going to be able to make the try because they didn't have a holder.
  • "Because they didn't have a holder" he says. What was I thinking? Orange Bowl holder extraordinaire Tom Brady to the rescue!
  • How many times is T.Y. Hilton going to hobble off the field and then sprint right back on? You're either hurt or you're not, T.Y. Get with the program.
  • Definitely heard the Hulk Hogan theme song playing on more than one occasion on Saturday.
  • Note to the Patriots pass rush: don't hit Luck as he throws. It never seems to end well for anybody.
  • Seriously - New England hit Luck as he threw four times yesterday. Those four throws went for huge gains and a touchdown.
  • Whatever happened to a Tommy B keeper on 3rd and short?
  • Do...do I...do I have a mancrush on LeGarrette Blount? I think I might. I usually don't date guys a lot taller than me and who outweigh me by 50 pounds, but there's a first time for everything.
  • Why doesn't Austin Collie get more playing time? The guy is a 1st down machine and has been all season.
  • If New England can score 43 points without Brady needing to throw a single touchdown pass, then they can beat any team left in the postseason. Period. I'll go to Seattle right now and shove this running game right down Richard Sherman's undoubtedly wide open mouth.
  • Julian Edelman should have saved himself a lot of time and just run directly backwards for 10 yards and dropped to the ground every time he fielded a punt. Not a good day overall from the special teams.
  • How much would I have to pay you to try and tackle Blount when he's runnig full steam ahead?
  • I kind of felt like Brandon Bolden should have closed out this game. Blount and Ridley both had a sizeable load on Saturday and are sure to have more or the same next week. Bolden doesn't fumble and had fresh legs late in the 4th.
  • Then again, what do I know? I wrote that note right before Blount rattlled off another huge gain.
  • As of this writing, it's 10:56 on Saturday night. I just wondered how many "Out of Luck" or "Luck Ran Out" headlines we'll see over the next 48 hours. To my knowledge, I thought of it first.
  • The last 10 minutes of this game was spectacularly boring and I for one couldn't have been happier about it. If we can just do that from now on, that would be awesome.
  • Yikes - Vince Wifork is BALD. I guess a career spent wearing a helmet and crashing headfirst into very large men will do that to you.
  • Dan Dierdorf on his retirement: "You haven't seen the last of me. I will track you guys down and show up for a game." I think that's true. Dierdorf is likely to forget that he even retired and show up for work as scheduled next September.
  • While I think that Pepsi commercial about the first ever halftime with the damsels in distress pulling up to the old tymey football game is pretty stupid, I would be all for NFL refs calling games in blazers, knee socks, and newsie caps.
  • I'm not sure anyone else noticed, but during Allie LaForce's postgame interview with Tommy B, the camera started steaming up a bit. Anybody who blames that on the humidity is fooling themselves. We all saw the way you were looking at him LaForce. Don't try to deny it.
  • Monster, MONSTER win. Will-imposing, grind-it-out, smash-mouth football that I haven't seen out of New England since the Corey Dillon era.
  • And finally - I'd be remiss if I didn't at mention Sam Berns, who finally lost his battle with Progeria after beating the ever living crap out of it for almost a full decade longer than he was expected to, to close out these notes. I remember watching the Sam Berns documentary earlier in the year and sitting in my chair absolutely speechless. It's so easy to take life for granted, and to see someone like Sam who was dealt one hell of a hand remain so positive, funny, and energetic is humbling to say the least. Kind of foolish to stress out over the possibility of your team losing to a Peyton Manning led offense, or gloat over the possibility of your team beating a Peyton Manning led offense, knowing that at the end of the day there are much, much more important things out there. If nothing else, Sam made this wannabe sportswriter appreciate what a wonderful thing life is. Thank you, Sam. I think I may have caught a glimpse of you running down the sidelines on Saturday, grinning from ear to ear, and waving Blount into the end zone.
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