The New England Patriots are still undefeated, following another convincing victory, this week against perhaps their biggest rivals, the Indianapolis Colts. The game was back and forth in the first half, and the Patriots would grab the lead for good after a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
Here are five things we learned from the win:
Patriots revenge wins out over Colts revenge. After a tightly contested first half, the New England Patriots decimated the Colts in the second half, outscoring them 14-6 with a garbage time touchdown being the Colts only score. The game was not the full-out domination that many had expected, but the Patriots were clearly the better team. Had it not been for a fluke Julian Edelman bobble that was returned for a pick six by Mike Adams, this game would not have been particularly close.
That being said, the Colts were certainly not ready to roll over in this one. They are a good football team with a lot of talent, and it showed tonight. They won in the trenches for most of the first half, before the Patriots won in that area in the second half. It was easy to forget, with all of the drama surrounding Deflategate, that the Colts had a lot to play for in this one too. It just so happened that the Patriots were the better team.
Tom Brady is... mobile. It still sounds weird to say, but it's completely true. Brady was without his two top left tackles after Marcus Cannon went down on the opening drive with a toe injury. And at times, the pressure from an improved Colts defensive line got to Tom Brady. Yet time and time again, Brady stepped up in the pocket, and delivered beautiful throws. His touchdowns to Julian Edelman in the first have and LeGarrette Blount in the second half were perfect examples of this. This is an area Brady showed great improvement on in 2014, and he seems to have gotten even better in 2015. For the day, Brady finished 23-37 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and that unlucky interception on the pass intended for Edelman.
LeGarrette Blount really, really likes playing the Colts. Blount was the Patriots' leading rusher with 95 yards on 16 carries, and his 38-yard second quarter touchdown rumble was one of the big highlights of the first half. He also had the key touchdown of the second half - extending the Patriots lead to 13 with his first career receiving touchdown. Dion Lewis was not as big of a part of the game plan tonight, but that is what makes the Patriots' running back duo so potent. For Blount, his domination of the Colts continued, it was his third multi-touchdown game against them in the last three years.
Dominique Easley is becoming a really good player. The Patriots really got after Andrew Luck in the second half, but perhaps the team's best defensive lineman throughout the game was second year defensive tackle Dominique Easley. He looks truly healthy for the first time in his Patriots' career, and his explosiveness was the best we have seen tonight. He was effective with the rip, the bull rush, and was constantly creating havoc. He also had a first half sack. If he continues to improve, it could make the Patriots' front seven that much more dangerous for the stretch run.
Patriots have some issues stopping the run. Frank Gore had a nice game for the Colts, picking up 78 yards on 13 carries. He was constantly running through wide open holes, even as the Patriots defense upped their performance in the second half. This was an area where the Patriots greatly missed Dont'a Hightower. Fortunately, the Patriots were better against the pass, where they were very crafty in their mix of man and zone calls.
Five more quick thoughts and observations from the game:
1. Danny Amendola had a really nice game, leading the Patriots with seven receptions for 105 yards. Julian Edelman had some struggles with drops, and Rob Gronkowski was constantly double teamed (similar attention that Randy Moss would receive). Amendola had a lot of one vs. one opportunities, and took advantage.
2. Jerod Mayo just has not appeared to move very well since coming back from injury, and there was no greater sign of that than Jonathan Freeny getting the majority of playing time over Mayo in sub-packages. Freeny had some struggles as well.
3. The Colts seemed to get away with a lot of holding calls tonight. Rob Ninkovich ended up drawing a few, and Chandler got one as well. After starting the game slowly, the Patriots' pass rush really came on, and when they could not get to Luck, they were getting close.
4. The Patriots moved Devin McCourty around a lot. He played a lot of man, coming up closer to the line. The excellent play of Duron Harmon has given them some more versatility in this area.
5. What do I make of the "worst play ever run in NFL history?" I don't know. It was awesomely bad. Teams tend to overthink things when they play the Patriots, and this was a prime example. Chuck Pagano made some gutsy calls early in the game - the best example of which was a 4th and one on the opening drive that turned into a touchdown. This play though, was one he would like to have back. It will live in infamy, next to the butt fumble.