Instead of giving you a postgame diatribe, we’ll re-visit my thoughts from pre-game.
“New England and Indianapolis will be looking to do the same thing tonight. Get out to a fast start, control the pace of the game, win the turnover battle, and force the opponent into uncomfortable spots.”
Ultimately, that’s exactly what happened. Indy started out strong, putting together a 20 point lead in the fourth quarter. They controlled the pace of the game and forced New England into a style of offense that they’re not conducive of playing. Despite the Patriots best efforts, they could not complete the comeback and will now look to rebound against one of the AFC’s best teams in the Buffalo Bills. Before you take a step in that direction, you can re-visit the Patriots game with Indianapolis below.
Patriots Inactives: RB Damien Harris, QB Jarrett Stidham, S Joshuah Bledsoe, CB JoeJuan Williams, OT Yodny Cajuste, TE Devin Asiasi
Colts Inactives: DL Ben Banogu, OT Julien Davenport, LB Malik Jefferson, C Ryan Kelly, RB Marlon Mack, WR Mike Strachan
The most important inactive on New England’s side is top running back Damien Harris, who will sit out with a hamstring injury. Stidham, Asiasi, Cajuste, and Bledsoe aren’t surprises, but JoeJuan Williams being passed over for Shaun Wade may be categorized as such.
No surprises on the Colts side, starting center Ryan Kelly was ruled out earlier this week with a couple of injuries and a personal matter, our thoughts are with him and his family.
Matthew Slater called heads and the coin landed on heads. The Patriots deferred their choice to the second half, meaning Indianapolis would start on offense.
University of Massachusetts product Isaiah Rodgers returned Jake Bailey’s opening kick to the Indianapolis 27-yard line to start the nights proceedings. On the first play from scrimmage, Carson Wentz hit Michael Pittman Jr. for a gain of six yards to set themselves ahead of the chains. On the next down, Indy ran the same play but was unsuccessful, leading to an early 3rd-and-4. That is where Wentz had Pittman wide open down the sideline but overthrew him, bailing J.C. Jackson out of some bad coverage. The Colts would punt. Gunner Olszewski made an interesting decision to return the punt and fumbled the ball, but saw it bounce out of bounds to retain possession.
New England took over at their own 22-yard line, handing the ball off to rookie Rhamondre Stevenson for a gain of four yards. Stevenson got another touch on the next play, catching a swing pass for another four yards leading to a 3rd-and-2. Jones dropped back and delivered a dart to Jakobi Meyers for a gain of 10 yards and a first down. The Patriots continued to let Jones drop back, something we haven’t seen in about a month, but this time he pulled it down and scrambled for 12 yards and another first down. Kendrick Bourne’s carry on the next play went for just one yard before New England set up a screen for Jonnu Smith that would have gained another first if not for the offensive line getting antsy and up the field too early. A delay of game penalty before the following snap would back them up five more yards. Rhamondre Stevenson picked up four yards to set up a 3rd-and-15, where Mac Jones took a 15 yard sack, eventually leading to a punt. A very up and down possession for the Patriots offense.
The Colts offense took over at their own 22-yard line, handing the ball off to wide receiver Ashton Dulin for a gain of 37 yards before Jonathan Taylor took it from there. Gains of 11, four, six, five, and four on the next five plays to set up a 3rd-and-1 from New England’s 11-yard line. Guess who got the ball? That’s right Jonathan Taylor picked up the first down, before Indy made him the lead blocker for Nyheim Hines who scored from eight yards out. [Patriots 0 : 7 Colts]
Looking for a response, the Patriots started at their own 20-yard line following a short Gunner Olszewski kick return. They would lose yards on the ground on first down, forcing a pair of Jones throws to Bourne and Meyers that would eventually lead to a first down. Back to the ground, a pair of Rhamondre Stevenson runs netted the Patriots just one yard leading to another 3rd-and-long. Jones dropped back and looked deep for Jakobi Meyers who dropped a beautiful pass and forced a punt. Shortly thereafter the Colts would be standing in the end zone with six more, as Bailey’s punt was blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. [Patriots 0 : 14 Colts]
Back out on offense after a horrific start, the Patriots had no choice but to throw the ball, gaining a few yards on a pass to Jonnu Smith before the end of the quarter.
New England continued to throw the ball, hitting Nelson Agholor for a gain of five before running another third down toss to Brandon Bolden that didn’t work. It seems to be becoming a weekly occurrence. Jake Bailey came back on to punt, only netting the Patriots just 32 yards of field position. It’s an improvement over the last one.
The Colts came back out with tremendous field position at their own 35-yard line. With no reason not to, they fed Jonathan Taylor, who picked up nine yards on three carries leading to a 4th-and-1 from around mid field. Wentz went with the quick count and leaned forward for enough to pick up a first down. On the next play, New England seemed to have the perfect call as Dont’a Hightower came free on a blitz but was chopped down by Jonathan Taylor, before Wentz floated one into quadruple coverage that was somehow caught by Zach Pascal. Wentz and Taylor picked up another pair of first downs to push Indy inside the Patriots 10-yard line. New England’s defense would eventually force a 3rd-and-goal where Wentz would miss Mo Alie-Cox, forcing a 25-yard field goal attempt and make by Michael Badgley. [Patriots 0 : 17 Colts]
Back out for their fourth possession, the Patriots had 4:31 to get some points before the half. They started strong, moving into Indianapolis territory on just two plays: a 15 yard pass to Bourne and a 13 yard run by Stevenson. Two plays after that, Jones would hit Hunter Henry for a gain of 25 yards. A nine yard rush by Jakobi Meyers would lead to the 2:00 warning. Jonnu Smith was called for a false start out of the break, pushing New England back to the 18-yard line. A short Brandon Bolden run set up 3rd-and-3 from the Indianapolis 15-yard line. On the next play, Mac Jones threw an interception right into the arms of Darius Leonard. Colts ball.
With 1:43 remaining in the half, the Colts now had a chance to pick up more points before halftime, but the Colts were content with letting Jonathan Taylor burn the remaining clock in the half. [Halftime – Patriots 0 : 17 Colts]
The Patriots came out with the ball and set themselves up with a third and short to start out the half. But Jones threw his second bad interception of the night, as Bobby Okereke undercut a check down to Brandon Bolden for Indy’s third turnover of the night.
The Colts decided to throw the ball in the red zone, but were unable to do anything as Kyle Dugger and J.C. Jackson each almost forced turnovers before Deatrich Wise Jr. and Matt Judon combined for a sack to force another field goal attempt. Michael Badgley missed right from 46-yards out, but the Patriots were called offside giving him another opportunity at the three points. He was true from 41. [Patriots 0 : 20 Colts]
Down 20-0, the Patriots offense needed points. They ran the ball on first down for a gain of five, then they ran the ball on second down where rookie Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled a ball that was recovered by Jonnu Smith. On 3rd-and-2, Indianapolis jumped offsides and gifted the Patriots a first down. Over the course of the next two plays, New England lost 10 yards due to a long incompletion and a block in the back penalty. Jones hit Agholor on two straight plays for a total of 19 yards to bring 4th-and-1. Jones rolled out and threw the ball into a sea of grass, turning the ball over to the Colts for the fourth time on the night.
Taking over inside New England territory, the Colts could pick up just nine yards on three plays bringing up another fourth down. With the math on their side, they went for it and converted on another Carson Wentz sneak. With tensions at a season high for New England, Kyle Dugger and Michael Pittman Jr got into it, with both players being disqualified for throwing punches that eventually led to a ref being sent to the ground.
The Patriots were ultimately able to force a field goal attempt following the ejections, where Michael Badgley missed from 49 yards out. If there was ever a chance for New England to get back into it, it would be now.
Jones and the Patriots offense took over at their own 39-yard line with just over 4:00 left in the third quarter. Jones hit Henry for a gain of 14 yards before Nelson Agholor made a great catch for 10 yards and another first down. He would be helped ushered off the field by the NFL’s concussion spotter. On 3rd-and-4 from the Indianapolis 31-yard line, Jones evaded pressure and chucked it across his body and into Hunter Henry’s arms for a first down. Jones hit Henry again, moving the Patriots inside the red zone. One play later, they were outside the red zone as Jakobi Meyers was called for holding on a could have been touchdown. Before the next play, Isaiah Wynn was called for a false start. On 1st-and-23 from the Indy 25-yard line, Brandon Bolden took a screen for 13 yards and ultimately bringing an end to the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jones hit his favorite target Hunter Henry for a 12 yard touchdown. The Patriots have a glimmer of hope. [Patriots 7 : 20 Colts]
Back on offense, Indianapolis looked to pick things back up after a few slow drives prior. T.Y. Hilton picked up 19 yards and a first down, but Devin McCourty was able to intercept Wentz on a tipped pass by Jamie Collins. The Patriots are back in business.
The Patriots were unable to complete anything on first or second down on their ensuing drive, leading to a 3rd-and-10 from their own 47-yard line. Jones felt pressure and hit Brandon Bolden on a swing pass, who took it for 12 yards and a first down. New England looked to get tricky on the next play, but a slow developing flea flicker lead to a rushed throw by Jones that fell incomplete. N’Keal Harry made a catch one yard short of the sticks, bringing up 3rd-and-1 with two chances to convert. On their first attempt, Stevenson was stopped short of the line of scrimmage. On 4th-and-1, Jones hit Meyers for a first down to move the Patriots into the extended red area. Kendrick Bourne took a reverse to the Indianapolis 4-yard line on the next play, before the Patriots would be forced into another third down situation, where Michael Onwenu would be called for a false start. On 3rd-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Jones was flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw it away. New England chose to take three points and cut the lead to ten. [Patriots 10 : 20 Colts]
Indianapolis would take over at the 22-yard line on their ensuing possession. Jonathan Taylor took a handoff for 12 yards to start the drive. They fed him again for six more yards, then three yards to bring up yet another 3rd-and-1 where Taylor would be stood up by Lawrence Guy. Around midfield, the Colts chose to go for it on fourth down. On 4th-and-1 from their own 44-yard line, Wentz snuck the ball for the third time on the night and converted for the third time. With 4:50 left in the game, up by 10 points, and holding the ball around midfield, Indianapolis’ focus shifted from moving the ball to killing clock. New England was able to stop them on three straight runs, allowing them to take just 1:02 off the clock.
New England took over at their own 18-yard line with one timeout and 3:48 remaining in regulation. In hurry up, Mac Jones hit Kendrick Bourne for 20 yards before ultimately being faced with a 3rd-and-6 from their own 43-yard line where he hit N’Keal Harry deep for a gain of 43 yards.
On 2nd-and-goal, Mac Jones hit Henry for another touchdown to cut the lead to three. [Patriots 17 : 20 Colts]
Down 3 with 2:21 left, New England chose to kick deep and play defense. New England stopped Indy for a gain of two on first down and called a timeout. On the next play, Jonathan Taylor ended things with a 67-yard touchdown run. [Patriots 17 : 27 Colts]
The Patriots offense needed 10 points in 2:00 following Taylor’s MVP-style run. A screen to Bolden took them to midfield, before Andrew Sendejo hit N’Keal Harry in the back of the head, leading to the departure of both men from the field. Eventually the Patriots would be faced with a 4th-and-10 from the 50-yard line, Jones’ prayer across the field to Gunner Olszewski would not be answered. New England turned it over on downs and Indianapolis killed the clock. [FINAL – Patriots 17 : 27 Colts]