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Patriots vs. Colts: Fan Notes from the Game

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 34-27 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Another wacky NFL week in the books.

The Seahawks lost at home, Philip Rivers threw for 500 yards at Lambeau, the Broncos barely beat the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens' season is over and it isn't even Halloween yet, and the Indianapolis Colts briefly held a lead against the New England Patriots. What the hell is going on this year?

On the plus side, in a season filled with more uncertainty and craziness than an "Are You the Father?" episode of Maury, there are a few things we can rely on - like the Patriots having Indy's number. New England was able to travel to Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the AFC Finalists, and come away with a 34-27 victory that wasn't nearly as close as the final score dictated. And while I know that there are plenty of folks out there who wanted to see the Pats hang 70 on Indy and embarrass them beyond all belief, the Colts did a better job embarrassing themselves than New England ever could. So everyone wins, in a way.

But in another, much more tangible way, just the Patriots won.

  • As I mentioned last week, I don't hate the Colts. I don't. I probably should, but I don't. I watch every Colts game knowing that it's just a matter of time before they shoot themselves in the foot, and this year was no exception. The good news for Indy fans is it took them until the second half before they crapped the bed, which is a marked improvement from when the last time these two teams met.
  • Time it took me to get sick of the Deflategate references: three minutes. Anybody who wants to make the claim that the NFL doesn't have a very specific agenda to push on the masses is crazy. And how insane is it that Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth harped on how sick everyone is of hearing about Deflategate as they continuously talked about Deflategate?
  • I've said it before and I won't stop harping on it for as long as I'm writing for this site: I hate primetime games. I love wasting Sundays watching football, but I want to be relaxed and fancy free from about 4 PM on. At least the Patriots kicked off.
  • What a great drive from Indy to start the game. A beautiful pass on first down, some strong runs, versatile plays, and Andrew Luck had plenty of time to look down his reads. A 90 yard drive that took up half of the first quarter and ended in a touchdown and took any initial momentum the Patriots might have had. Absolutely love that they went for it on 4th and 1 and threw a fade route. That's confidence and poise right there. Apparently the Colts didn't get the memo that this was supposed to be a blowout.
  • I also love how Collinsworth implied that the Patriots are the only team in the NFL who utilize the rub play. How any time another team does it (as the Colts did successfully, several times, last night), it's just them giving New England a taste of their own medicine. It has nothing to do with the fact that that's an effective play and nobody is really calling it this year. Nope, nothing to do with that at all.
  • At first I was worried about the Logan Ryan on Andre Johnson matchup, particularly since Johnson opened up the game with a solid out route and completion. But overall, Ryan got the better of that exchange.
  • Brady's first two passes, a completion to Julian Edelman and an incompletion to Gronk, were to covered receivers. His next two throws were close to being picked. Not sure if that's supreme confidence in receivers or lack of confidence in the offensive line.
  • Good for Kia for calling out the absolute absurdity that is the Participation Trophy. Given that participation trophies are all that I ever received growing up, I feel that I'm uniquely qualified to tell you how much those things need to go. And good for the mom in the other Kia commercial for coming to grips with the fact that her kid sucks at football.
  • A lot of under zone from New England defensively, allowing for the checkdown receiver and preventing anything big over the top. That might be a result of the closing speed of this linebacker corps.
  • Speaking of linebackers - has anybody seen Jerod Mayo? You know, that team captain,leading tackler, cerebral player that Belichick loves? With Dont'a Hightower out last night with a rib injury, you figure he'd be a central figure in the defense. But the only thing I can remember about Mayo's game last night was his inability to shed his blocks and allowing Frank Gore a cutback lane. Jonathan Freeney ended up playing more - and better - than Mayo did. Looks like this might be his last year in New England.
  • Is it really that hard not to block somebody in the back on a punt return? It happens at least once per game to the Patriots and this marks the third or fourth straight year that illegal blocks to the back nullify good field position. Belichick is the best in the business at ensuring that this team doesn't get bitten by the same thing over and over, but is one penalty he just can't seem to shake.
  • Oh good. Marcus Cannon is out too. Who needs left tackles? It's not like that's an important position along that line or anything.
  • I'd love to know how often a run on 2nd and 10 translates into a manageable third down distance. I'd hazard the guess "not that often."
  • One of the big plays of the game to deflate (ha! See what I did there) some Colts momentum and change the field position was a Brady to Keshawn Martin connection that went for 39 yards and ultimately set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. It was a simple out and up route, and nothing special, but Martin was wide open. Why? Because Gronk simply ran over Mike Adams as he made a cut towards the sideline and Greg Toler was frozen in place, either from terror or amazement. Either way, it was a huge play a great adjustment, and I'm really starting to see why Houston was so happy to be rid of this guy.
  • I'd love to see more stretch runs from Blount. I feel like he's at his best when he can build up his speed heading northeast/west and than making his cut upfield.
  • The main reason that Indy was able to have so much success through the air against New England early was because Luck never really had to leave the pocket. The pass rush just wasn't there and he was able to set his feet and throw with confidence. Once the Patriots started dialing up the blitz and the pressure, it changed the complexion of the game.
  • I wonder who said the Patriots should blitz luck more often? Just doing what I can to help out the team.
  • I think my favorite part of last night's game was towards the middle of the second quarter when Dominique Easley got a free release on Andrew Luck and just froze in the middle of the line, completely blown away that he had a straight line to the quarterback and nobody bothered to block him. If he had just made a beeline for Luck, it would have been an easy sack instead of an incompletion. It used to happen to me all the time when I'd approach a woman at the bar and she didn't turn around and walk away immediately.
  • Edelman was clearly hurt more than anyone initially thought. He tried to make a lot of body catches instead of extending his hands. On two of his drops - including the pick six - the ball simply bounced right off his chest. I don't think that the injury is too serious, and you can make it work with a dislocated pinkie finger, but this needs to be monitored closely, as Edelman is Tommy B's go-to guy when he needs a big play. You don't want to lose that confidence and trust.
  • Drops were actually an issue all game. This was another one in which the Pats didn't play as well as they are capable.
  • And still hung 30 on an opponent on the road. They are currently on pace to break their own records set in 2007.
  • Mike Adams is just one of those players who always seems to benefit from a Tommy B pick. One of the more underrated DBs of the past decade.
  • Really glad that the NFL brought out their A-team officials for this nationally televised game that the entire world was watching. Just a great job all around, guys. I'll grant that the game was called pretty fairly, but the refs didn't seem to know which team was which at times, blew a few key calls, and once again made a very strong case for those who contend that the officials have decided to make Sundays about them instead of the players.
  • There are probably a lot of Colts fans this morning upset that their onside kick attempt ended up going to New England when Donte Montcrief is the one who came up with the ball. And I think you have good cause. But I also think that that was a situation where there wasn't a clear angle with who actually possessed the ball in that pile. You see it moving around, and then it kind of disappears among the bodies, and who knows from there. And since the call on the field was New England ball, that's how it had to stay.
  • And a stretch play for Blount...TD. It's like Josh McDaniels is looking over my shoulder as I write these or something. I know I've seen Blount make a quick cut in the backfield and take it to the house before. I just can't place where...
  • Andrew Luck did a very good job watching Matt Hasselbeck win over the last two weeks, as he embraced a similar offensive philosophy in the first half. Took what the defense gave him and decided to stop arm punting. The results were hard to ignore.
  • Really no need to put your hand on the DB's face, Scott Chandler. You have like a foot on the guy. Come on, now.
  • How is Brady more mobile now, at 38, than he has ever been? He's now officially more mobile than I am, which means I think I have to stop making fun of him for it.
  • That Gronk spike probably deflated the football a bit, eh? Am I right, folks?
  • I want to knock any commentator who, when Gronk gets wide open and rumbles for a big gain, attributes it to a blown coverage. It has to be something more than consistent blown coverages if Gronk is good for at least one of those per game. However, you go back to the film and see the plays back to back, and there really is a case to be made for it. The real key is Brady's pre-snap adjustments causing confusion in the defense.
  • Watching Chris Collinsworth hope against hope that a call - any call - will go against the Patriots reminds me of an overbearing mother at a children's beauty pageant who knows that her daughter has zero chance to take home the tiara, but she might win on a technicality because Ruby Sue's Baker's mom forged her daughter's birth certificate to keep her in the U-12 circuit just a little longer.
  • Man I love watching Frank Gore run. Probably one of my favorite backs of the past 10 years. Glad he's finding his groove this season.
  • Young Bill Belichick was a STUD. Move over, Tommy B.
  • Dominique Easley, on his sack, was so explosive off the line that he literally made center Jonotthan Harrison do a straddle split before falling face first onto the turf. Strap a pillow to that guy's butt and put him in skates and he may as well have been a dad taking his kid to the rink for the afternoon.
  • I can't shake this feeling that punts, punters, punt formations, and the like are going to be getting a fair amount of attention this week. I'd sit here and say that I'm above all that...but that would be a blatant lie. So HERE WE GO!
  • That may have been the dumbest play in the history of the National Football League, and I say that without exaggeration. It was a play that the Colts drafted, practiced, and inserted into the game plan. It was a conscious decision by the coaching staff to try that play
  • I will say this, though: I was on my feet, screaming at the TV, begging for the Patriots to call a timeout. But they didn't; they calmly adjusted, set their personnel up to best defend the play, weren't thrown off their game for a second, and sniffed the play right out. What a great testament to discipline, situational football, and effective coaching. This is why Belichick is the best in the business.
  • Pretty much everyone is saying that the intention was to not snap the ball there; Indy was trying to create some confusion, draw the Patriots offsides, or maybe go for the play if they got the perfect matchup. But snap it they did, in the Coltsiest play you'll ever see, and Griff Whalen didn't even try to move the ball forward before he turtled up like a man who had just won $10,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos at the expense of a shot to the pills.
  • And let the record show that I actually commend Indy for being aggressive with some trickery. I loved the onside kick call and have zero problem with dialing up some kind of fake punt. But if you don't even line up properly so even if the play works it's going to come back
  • I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure somewhere, somehow, I fully expect somebody to blame the Patriots for that debacle. Like the defense somehow illegally goaded Indy into snapping the ball or something. It's just a matter of time. I just hope the ensuing investigation can stay under $5 million this time.
  • You know it's bad when the cons from The Longest Yard are better at lining up in this formation than you are.
  • For a brief second, I thought the Pats were playing the Jets last night. Was this play worse than the Buttfumble? Look for a comparison of the two later on this week.
  • I'll tell you who must be ecstatic this morning: Redskins fans. Up until last night, this play was hands down the worst trick play in the history of the NFL. Well the Skins have been officially dethroned.
  • Belichick. In everyone's head. It's like the man looks at you and you instantly become dumb. He's like some kind of football Medusa.
  • The last thing I'll say is a positive: Pat McAfee is one of the best punters in the NFL. He had the Patriots starting from inside their own 20 for most of the night, and he deserves a ton of credit. He's a cool guy, too. Of course, nobody is going to talk about that this week, but credit where credit is due.
  • Between that play and the Michigan punt, this has to be the worst weekend for special teams in football history, right?
  • The ensuing Patriots touchdown more or less sealed the game, capped off by that vaunted receiving back LeGarrette Blount catching his first ever TD pass. How emasculating must it be for Indy to have Blount once again put the game away, only this time he did it through the air?
  • One of my favorite things is when fans (Pats fans very much included) whine about how nobody is calling all of the blatant holding that's going on. When you get to the point where you're screaming for holding, something isn't going right with your team.
  • The Patriots now have Edelman, Cannon, Hightower, and Sheard banged up, and Matthew Slater may very well be out for the season. I don't think anyone really understands what losing Slater is going to do to the field position battle. Hopefully it isn't too serious, but if it is, that's an absolutely devastating loss.
  • The Patriots shouldn't save that 4 TE package for just the goal line. I feel like and down and short would be a great place to bust it out. It has the versatility to work pretty much anywhere.
  • I legit thought I was watching a trailer for a movie on the latest Assassin's Creed game. I haven't owned a video game console since the PS2 and nothing, in my book, will ever touch Super Nintendo in terms of fun factor of the games, but holy Tebow are these games getting realistic.
  • How great was that Brady vs. Luck and Manning metric? Maybe for the next game they should trot both Manning and Luck out there at the same time and Brady can smack them both around at once.
  • I really hate when the Pats go prevent. Rush three, keep it all in front of them. Luck's inaccuracy is what doomed the Colts here, not the New England defensive looks.
  • Hey...at least you guys sacked Brady at the end there, eh?
  • If you're a Colts fan this morning, are you trying to spin this loss as some kind of "we didn't get blown out, we played the Patriots tough, and if a few calls had gone our way, this might have been a different result" deal? I probably would be if I was a Colts fan. Sports fan logic is the greatest thing in the world.
  • The Colts are now responsible for two Deflategates. They complained about deflated footballs, and they took all the air out of their own stadium with terrible coaching.
  • I'm almost at the point where I don't even get that excited when Jamie Collins does something unbelievable.
  • Almost.
  • If anyone is wondering, what Collins did is 100% legal as long as he doesn't touch the center at all in his leap. If he makes contact at all -which he clearly doesn't - then it's a penalty. The reason you don't see that too often is because how many players out there are freakish enough to leap cleanly over a 275 lb center?
  • That was an absolutely huge play, as it meant that the Colts could only tie it with a TD had they recovered the onside kick.
  • I never thought I'd be happy to see Gronk pushed out of bounds to prevent him from returning the kick attempt for a touchdown...but if he had done that Rich Hill would have once again won the prediction battle. So good for Gronk for stepping out.
  • To anybody who is both a Michigan and a Colts fan out there today: yikes. That is one rough weekend of sports. But hey - this is why we watch. These are the things that make sports great. If it always went the way it was supposed to, it would be boring as boring could be.
  • Still undefeated. Mark it up.

Tommy B didn't seem overly happy after this game was over, but I know I was. A huge win on the road against a conference opponent that could very well have playoff implications come January. The Patriots are now in a great spot at 5-0 with a three game homestand coming up, with a chance to have the AFC East more or less locked up before Halloween if they continue to do their job.

Man it's great to be a Patriots fan.