Report card: Patriots-Colts
The Patriots didn't do too much out of the ordinary from a game-plan perspective, but there was definitely in up-tick in Julian Edelman's role in the offense, which paid dividends. Halftime adjustments on both side of the ball resulted in the Patriots outscoring the Colts 35-7 in the second half. There weren't any obvious errors in clock management or play-calling.
Statistically, Tom Brady had one of his best games of the season, completing 68 percent of his passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't throw any interceptions, finishing with a 127.2 QB rating. There were a few plays where he wasn't on the same page with receiver Brandon Lloyd, but that connection improved as the game went on. Pass protection was stellar.
Not the performance you would have expected against the Colts defense. After the game, coach Bill Belichick said the offensive line did a better job pass blocking than run blocking, and he wasn't kidding. Stevan Ridley had a rough game, totaling just 28 yards on 13 carries, a dismal 2.2 yard-per-carry average. Shane Vereen proved more explosive in the early going, but evened out as the game progressed, finishing with 40 yards on 11 carries.
Like a basketball team that thrives on the three-point shot, the Patriots were able to generate 14 points directly out of their pass defense, with two big interception returns for touchdowns, as well as a strip-sack. But for the one big play that Aqib Talib made, he also allowed two touchdown catches, while cornerback Kyle Arrington was flagged for a costly 40-yard pass interference penalty. Overall, there was clear improvement from this unit, but consistency is still lacking.
It won't be talked about much after this game, but the Patriots had another rough game in run defense, allowing 119 yards on 24 carries. They weren't gashed as severely as they were last week against the Buffalo Bills, but a committee of Colts running backs, led by Vic Ballard (4.5 yard-per-carry average) were able to move the ball well.
Several weeks after the kick return game got a boost from Devin McCourty's kick return for a touchdown against the New York Jets, the punt return broke through on Sunday. On two punt returns, Julian Edelman averaged 58.5 yards-per-return, including a 68-yard return for a touchdown. Punter Zotan Mesko only punted twice but was effective. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski wasn't quite as strong on his kickoffs, while he missed a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter.