Colts 24 – Patriots 59
It just wasn’t very pretty. After reeling off four straight victories, the Colts lost a blowout to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Although the team came out firing and actually scored first, the defense couldn’t hold up against tight end monstrosity Rob Gronkowski, and Andrew Luck struggled with 3 picks, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. In the end, New England pulled away and didn’t let up, outscoring Indianapolis 35-7 in the second half. The Colts are young and talented, but they just were not quite ready for the powerhouse that is New England.
The Colts offense came out with guns a blazing. Delone Carter‘s 1-yard touchdown run put the Horseshoe on the board first, and then Andrew Luck threw a pretty 14-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton before the first quarter was over to put his team up 14-7. However, things would go downhill after that — and quickly. Luck threw for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he also had 3 very bad picks, and the Patriots’ pass rushers were all over him the entire game. While for the most part the left side of the line – led by Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz – held up, the right side gave way time after time, causing Luck to throw with defenders literally on his back. Luck also made several risky throws, sending passes into areas of very tight coverage. While they sometimes paid off, at other times they proved costly.
T.Y. Hilton was the star of the receiving corps, catching 6 passes for 100 yards, including both of Luck’s touchdowns. The former FIU Panther has recorded three 100+ yard games this season. No other rookie has done so this year, even once.
On the ground, Vick Ballard – yet another rookie – led the way, rushing for 72 yards on 16 carries.
In the end, turnovers hurt the Colts the most. Two turnovers led to touchdowns, and a punt was also returned for a touchdown on the Patriot side. That’s 21 points. Take those away, and the Colts could have been right in the thick of things.
In the early stages of the game, the defense bent, but it didn’t break. In the second half, it all but collapsed. The Colts just could not contain Rob Gronkowski, who danced into the end zone twice and put up 137 yards. The Patriots also ran up 115 net yards on the ground and allowed two different running backs — Vereen and Ridley – to score.
Not a single sack was recorded on Tom Brady, but Darius Butler, who had a great game last week at Jacksonville, managed to force a fumble. Unfortunately, that was the most the team could do.
Adam Vinatieri – a former Patriot – was inches away from recording a personal best 58-yard field goal. While that effort fell just short, Vinatieri did convert on a 47-yard attempt, and his 3 PATs also sailed beautifully through the uprights. I felt awful for the reception Vinatieri received in New England. Although the kicker has been a Colt for 7 seasons now, his departure apparently still stings for Patriots fans. They booed him all afternoon, even though it was not Vinatieri’s decision to leave New England in the first place — the team decided not to renew his contract in 2006. Vinatieri also helped the Patriots win 3 Super Bowls. Was that not enough? He certainly did not deserve to be treated that way. I, for one, am glad he now plays in blue and white. I know Colts fans would never treat a former player that way.
On another note, while the Colts punt returning unit continues to struggle productivity-wise, T.Y. Hilton had an eye-opening return in the third quarter. Upon catching the return from Zoltan Mesko, Hilton bobbled the ball in the air but then miraculously caught it and secured it again, showing an incredible amount of athleticism. While Hilton could only return the ball 7 yards at that point, he avoided what could have been another disastrous turnover.
No rookie quarterback has won in Foxboro in almost 20 years. Kerry Collins was the last to do it in 1995. So have no fear, all is not lost by any means for Andrew Luck and the Colts. The team is still very much in the playoff race and has a very winnable schedule ahead. The Colts have already exceeded expectations for this year, but they will look to add to their still-winning record next week when they host the Buffalo Bills next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Check back next Sunday for the next Horseshoe Hero recap!