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Patriots vs. Colts: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 38-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Happy Victory Friday, everyone!

Victory Fridays are a double whammy in the best kind of way. The weekend is almost here, and the Patriots have already gotten their win, so we can spend the day doing very little besides watching highlights and reading breakdowns of their matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. We also now have the weekend off to just relax and see if the rest of the AFC East will continue to collapse into oblivion. So here’s to getting absolutely nothing done at work today, and I’m honored that you’d choose to include me in your rotation of rampant slackoffery.

  • Let’s start today’s Fan Notes by paying homage to October, the greatest month on the sports calendar by leaps and bounds. The NFL season is underway in earnest. Preseason hockey and basketball is getting us excited for the upcoming seasons. College football is dominating our Saturdays. And the MLB postseason is in full swing. As much as I enjoy March Madness, October is where it’s at. Plus, it’s Halloween season, which means bag after bag of single serving packets of Reese’s Pieces and mini Kit-Kats as far as the eye can see.
  • And for the record...anything is a single serving if you’re determined enough.
  • But as great as October is, Thursday Night Football remains an absolute disaster for just so many reasons. Those poor Colts could literally barely even field a team last night with all the injuries they were nursing; there were even a few players named ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER that just didn’t dress because they needed bodies on the sideline. I don’t know the extent of the various injuries or whether an extra three days rest would have made a difference in who got to play, but it certainly didn’t help a team that played a full five quarters just three days prior and then had to travel to a hostile stadium. Let’s get rid of this crap and get back to football two days a week. End rant.
  • If you didn’t tune into the game until right before kickoff, you missed what might have been my favorite bit of television so far this year - Vince Wilfork walking through The Hall at Patriot Place and reminiscing about his time with the team alongside the McCourty brothers. They stopped before the replay of the Malcolm Butler interception (a play for which Wilfork gets pitifully little credit, by the way; watch the replay here and see how quickly he gets off the line), talking about how it was the single greatest play in Super Bowl history before breaking down Marshawn Lynch’s statistical success rate on goal-to-go runs. There’s a reason Wilfork is one of the best to ever do it; just a student of the game and an incredibly smart guy.
  • This game was a little slow to get going, mainly because the Patriots cheated again, tangling up the down marker chains in an attempt to steal a few yards in every series. Just too bad they were caught. I’m looking forward to the multi-million dollar investigation.
  • Not a horrible first drive, I suppose... 12 plays, 78 yards, almost six minutes off the clock, touchdown, Tommy B 9 of 9 to five different receivers. Yawn.
  • It’s always kind of weird how a drive can start 75 yards away from the end zone, Brady can make every throw, the Patriots can gain positive yards on every play, and Brady can have a 78 yard drive instead of a 75 yard one. Thank Tebow for false start flags.
  • The first play of that scoring drive was a nine yard completion to Edelman, a play I guarantee that Josh McDaniels drew up and inserted into the Colts game plan approximately 12 seconds after he got the hell out of Indy. .
  • And by “drew that play up,” I mean he likely just wrote “play #2” like he was ordering a combo meal at a fast food restaurant. Edelman going for a quick curl route in the hole in the zone for good gain has been a staple of this offense for 10 years now and he picked up right where he left off.
  • How was that massive sack of Luck where two Patriots slammed him into the ground and left an Andrew Luck-shaped hole in the ground not a flag and a fine? Maybe the flag fell somewhere in Wisconsin, where Clay Matthews was watching the game.
  • I may have angered the girlfriend last night talking about Tommy B. I really need to stop muttering “he is just so good looking!” over and over again.
  • Especially when there isn’t even football on and we’re just out and about doing things that have nothing to do with Tommy B.
  • That last statement wasn’t entirely true; I should actually be more accurate when writing about the girlfriend, as she puts up with a ton, and I’m more than a little proud to announce it. She’ actually no longer the girlfriend. As of late last year, she’s officially the future ex-Mrs. Shane. I don’t know why she said yes, but like any good fan when a highly dubious reception gets deemed a catch, I’m not going to question it. I’m just going to rush to the line and get a play off before the powers that be have time to see they made a big mistake.
  • One thing I won’t do, however, is use the term “fiancee.” It just sounds so douchey and pretentious. But there really isn’t another term to describe the person you’ll be marrying soon, so I have been going with the flagrant mispronunciation “fee-ants.” So far, no complaints. And by “no complaints,” I mean plenty of complaints that I’m ignoring.
  • And the important thing the fee-ants needs to remember about my Tommy B crush: I’m only going to get one ring from her. Brady has already given me five.
  • Did I hear Troy Aikman say that the Patriots were in Gostkowski’s range when they went three and out from the 50 after Edelman’s drop? That’s like a 67 yard attempt.
  • Then again, Aikman also did a wonderful job breaking down the brilliant defensive scheme the Colts drew up to get those two picks off of Brady as if their gameplan was to allow receivers to bobble the ball and have it fall right into someone’s lap. I haven’t heard an Aikman-called game in a while...but listening to the old guard like him, Simms, and Fouts try to call a game, it makes me think maybe they’re onto something with the whole “don’t touch the quarterback’s head” thing.
  • Given what they were working with, I thought that the Colts did a pretty good job last night. They switched to no-huddle at times, which really helped to spell the pressure that came on their opening drive. And Luck was very accurate and decisive with his throws, and I saw nothing to indicate that he’s lacking arm strength. What he was lacking, though, were receivers who didn’t drop beautifully thrown passes.
  • I feel like Adam Vinatieri is good for at least one shank in Foxboro per game. And I will go to my grave thinking that he does it on purpose as a cap tip to the team he wishes he still played for.
  • Even though I blissfully haven’t seen it yet during an actual football game, that Bud Light still insists on Dilly Dillying us all to death made me realize that the 1-800-KARS-4-KIDS kid is probably around 18 years old by now. I wonder how starring in that godawful commercial as a child is affecting his formative years. I feel like it’s a scenario where it mostly hinders his love life...but then every once in a while it really, really helps. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
  • The Colts got penalized 15 yards for brushing up against Tommy B’s helmet. Unreal, but that is the rule. Then, on the very next play, Sony Michel lowers his shoulder and collides with the Clayton Geathers with car accident force, knocks him out of the game, no problem, carry on, nothing to see here. I guess it should have been a penalty? I guess? Who knows.
  • I think I have the solution, though: we just make a universal penalty called “NFL Hypocrisy” that the ref can announce at any point. There can be two kinds of NFL Hypocrisy flags, the five yard variety and the 15 yard variety, depending on what will make the league the most money at that given moment. At least I could get behind the consistency and honesty there.
  • I haven’t gone back and watched any of the replay yet, so I’m not sure if the total lack of pressure from New England last night was more scheme-based or indicative of an inability to generate a rush against a very banged up defensive line. I feel like it was more the result of not wanting to lose contain on a strong, mobile quarterback and faith in the secondary to cover their man. They drew up very little blitzes and only rushed four most of the time, giving the receivers perhaps less respect than the deserved. It would have been nice to see the linemen win their individual battles and make Luck’s day a little more difficult, but I guess he was having a tough enough time trying to get his receivers to actually catch the ball.
  • This game really should have been over by halftime. Edelman doesn’t drop that gimme and then Brady connects with James White on that deep pass where he juuust overthrew him, and Canon doesn’t get called for holding towads the end of the 2nd quarter, and that’s more or less all she wrote. It ultimately didn’t matter, and Leaving points on the board is fine for now, but come November those plays need to happen and I would have much rather gone into the locker room up 35-3 instead of 24-3.
  • Now that, my friends, is what you call a First World Problem.
  • I’ll never understand the phenomenon of NFL players being hurt enough to stay down and need to be helped off the field, and then come back on two snaps later and chase down a runner in the open field.
  • James White may legit finish his 2018 campaign with 300 receptions. I’m doubling down on my previous statement that he’s the most essential non-Brady member of this offense up to this point in the season. And a special thanks to the Colts for recognizing his importance so much that they just decided not to cover him.
  • The yin to White’s yang, Sony Michele, is also starting to hit his stride. I wish he was better at falling forward for extra yards and he needs to learn how to extend his body more to get a few inches (he was also in on the play before the Brady rushing TD, for the record. BB didn’t challenge it because he knew they’d score on the next play), but he’s fast, he’s shifty, and he can truck stick larger defenders.
  • He also has great patience when he needs to wait and he’s decisive when he sees the lane open up. On his touchdown run, he takes off immediately off of Shaq Mason’s perfect pull block and takes right off. On an ideal running play, every man sticks his block and the runner is able to make one guy miss for a big gain. That’s exactly what happened here, capped with a TD and a stiffarm that represents what can only be described as the second worst shot to the face Farley has ever taken.
  • Patrick Chung is now my favorite player in the NFL. Yeah yeah, he’s a great safety and a cornerstone of this defense, but that crane kick celebration following the pick was lights out. Props to Duron Harmon for standing there dazed, giving me a sense of wonderful nostalgia for the days I spent waiting for “Finish Him!” to play in Mortal Kombat so I could rip out some guy’s spinal cord or burn them to a crisp. I am, however, amazed Chung didn’t get a flag for unnecessary roughness there.
  • Brady threw four times to Josh Gordon. One was on Brady, as it was too low. The second was on Gordon, as he should have broken off the route and come back to the play. The third was a in-cut for 16 yards and a first down Gordon. The fourth was a 34 yard TD pass into double coverage where he hauled it in and became the record. I think that’s a perfect microcosm of both his time here thus far as well as his ceiling as a receiver.
  • Hmm...a deep post into double coverage where the receiver split two defenders and came down with the TD...where have I seen that before?
  • And did you see how happy his teammates were for him?
  • With 500, Tommy B now needs just nine more to pass Brett Favre for 2nd of all time, something he’ll almost certainly do this year, and just 40 more to pass Peyton Manning and take yet another record. I’d love him to do that this year as well...but I can wait a year if I must.
  • What I most appreciate about the Gordon TD is that it shows a TREMENDOUS amount of trust from Tommy B. That wasn’t a designed deep post to Gordon; he was cutting across the middle, and covered, as Brady looked for options. Then he made his cut to the corner end zone with TWO Colts on him, and at no point was he open. Brady had plenty of time, too; it wasn’t one of those weird hucks he’s known for sometimes. He placed the ball where it could easily be picked. but he trusted his guy to get there and make the play. Nowhere to go from here but up.
  • In Gordon’s postgame presser, he expressed how excited he was to be a part of an offense and not all of it. I have to say, if the Cleveland Browns were relying solely on me to put points on the board for them every week, I’d probably be smoking weed all the time too.
  • I’m still a little bit concerned with the run defense, to be honest. Jordan Wilkins averaged 6.5 yards a carry in pretty vanilla schemes. But the tackling is better, which is nice.
  • Another big problem: covering tight ends. Eric Ebron is good...but he’s not nine catches for 105 yards and 2 TDs good. Chung, McCourty, and Hightower all took turns trying to cover him, but he slapped them all around like Joe Swanson when he got his new legs. Last time I checked, the next tight end who is up to make them look foolish is a guy named Travis Kelce. Crap.
  • I wonder what is was about all those weird deflections last night that turned into picks. I guess that’s just the way the game goes sometimes. The NFL should create a new stat for earned interceptions the way baseball has an ERA for pitchers. It’s crazy that Luck’s poor decision that ended up in Chung’s arms counts exactly the same as the one where he hit the defender square but he couldn’t hang onto it and Jones made the pick.
  • If you look at that pass from the Madden view, that’s a TREMENDOUS amount of trust. Gordon hadn’t even completed the route yet and he wast throwing right into two Colts.
  • Let’s be real here: Colts had a legit shot to win this game. Yes, they caught a few breaks with some bad tips, but that’s football. Andrew Luck was out there throwing absolute dimes to receivers who couldn’t hold onto them, and the running game was working well until they had to more or less abandon it. I would like to see what this Colts team is this time next month.
  • You know what the best part about this game is? It’s not Brady’s return to form. It isn’t Julian Edelman getting back on the field. It isn’t Tommy B’s record-setting night or Josh Gordon’s first TD catch as a Patriot. It’s not getting back above .500 or taking it to the Colts yet again. It isn’t even the mini-bye that the Patriots now get to enjoy. It’s that I no longer have to watch another Thursday night football game for the rest of the year, and that’s just fine with me.

Time to enjoy some much-needed time off and get ready for the best team in the AFC. The result of the Week 6 matchup between the Patriots and Chiefs is going to go a long way towards revealing what kind of team this is, and they’re for sure going to need the extra time to prepare.