December 10, 2016

Gut Check – Game Nine at Indy

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

New England’s defense isn’t good enough to stop the Colts. I know this because their coach gambled the entire game on one play for fear of having to face Indianapolis’ offense again.

In quite possibly the longest four minutes ever recorded, Indy scored 14 points to come from behind, 35-34, in a game Colts fans will call the best of the season.

Patriots fans? Not so much.

Bye Now, Peyton Later: Hey, hate him all you want, but you have to give Peyton Manning his due. The history-making quarterback with the iconographic melon did most of what he wanted to in the fourth quarter, including leading his team on three separate, two-minute TD drives to erase a 17-point lead.

Eff.

belichickFourth And Oh: Wanting to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands, Coach Belichick went for it on fourth and two from their own 28. Though Kevin Faulk appeared to catch the Tom Brady’s pass at the first-down line, the officials ruled it a bobble. Manning got the football and took roughly .008 of a second (actually, four plays) to find Reggie Wayne in the end zone.

Mother effer.

Oh, For The Love Of… You know, I try to like Laurence Maroney. I really do. But I find it difficult to defend his fumble on the goal line in the second quarter after the offense executed a picture-perfect 87-yard drive.

I know, I know, the Pats defense forced a punt. Which reminds me…

Wild, Wild Wes: Was I the one hoping Wes Welker would see fewer punt returns so he could focus on offense? Well, I guess Wes can do both. Welker had nine catches for 94 yards and a 69-yard return that set up Randy Moss’ second touchdown.

You know what? Writing that felt so good, we’ll try to stick with happy news.

He Slices, He Dices, He Julian: Welcome back and congratulations to rookie receiver Julian Edelman, who scored his first NFL touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Brady in the second quarter. Not a bad way to come back from a broken arm.

Pump Up The Vollmer: Commendable job by rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer containing Colts pass-rushing phenom Dwight Freeney to zero sacks. Not quite as commendable a job on the other side by Nick Kaczur trying to keep Indy’s Robert Mathis in check, as Mathis had two sacks and disrupted Brady’s passing during a key fourth-quarter drive (of course, every drive was key).

We’re Lichen Moss: Ol’ number 81 had nine receptions for 179 yards and two TDs. You’d think that would have been enough.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Ah come on. This one hurt, but not half as much as the AFC CCG a few years back.

    We have proven, that we can go to Indy and force our game on them, and only sloppyness in the 2nd Half, a few erronous ref calls and an historic comeback by Number 18 cost us the game.

    Obviously yesterday we lost our shot at HFA, but apart from that I feel pretty good about that game.

    • Chris Warner says:

      Kulko: 21 points in the fourth quarter. Leading by 17 at the beginning of the fourth. A sense of accomplishment replaced with an ongoing sense of dread. To me this felt very similar to 2006, and if the Pats meet the Colts in the playoff, I don’t see how the result won’t be the same.

      I’m glad you feel pretty good. Now let me go throw up.

      • my sentiments exactly. Grady Belicheck made a brain-dead decision at the end of the game but I had no sense that we were going to stop Manning whether we punted or not. Roles have been reversed. Brady could not get it done when the game was on the line, Manning could. Of course, our DL is incapable of pressuring the QB on its own like the Colts DL. Time to admit it folks. This is not your championship Patriots anymore. With that depleted Colts secondary its pitiful that we could not generate a single first down to close this one out. I now agree with that Hall of Fame QB vote in Manning’s favor.

  2. Very similar to the ’06 AFC Champ game. And I’m thinking that game had something to do with the 4th down decision. Maybe BB’s decision to punt after missing that 3rd-and-4 at mid-field with the game on the line has been festering for the past couple years. I’m wondering if he has said to himself: “If I EVER get in that situation again, I’m going for it.” While this loss is like a punch in the stomach, at least they have some more games to play and they’ll probably win the division and if they get back to Indy, I give them a better than even shot.

    After the heartbreaking losses of that AFC game and the Super Bowl and TB’s lost season and now THIS, I’m guessing that the pendulum that controls these things has to start swinging back to the other side. It HAS to. :)

  3. I have no problem with going for it on fourth down. On the road with a clearly ineffective D, you have to go for the KO.

    I didn’t like:
    – The misuse of timeouts. Uncharacteristic for one of the best clock managers in the game.
    – The out-route on 4th down. Fourth-and-two dictates pass but not having Faulk in the backfield to block (on what turned out to be a blitz) makes it a tight play regardless. With no timeouts, you have to get significantly past the first-down marker and not even let it be a close call. The Colts were clearly keying on Faulk and Welker and had almost jumped a previous pass out pattern. Maybe this is where they miss McDaniels the most.
    – When it was clear the Colts were going to bleed clock and score, the defense has to “let” Addai score prior to the 1st-and-goal so that there are 30-45 seconds on the clock and you can try for a GW figgie. Jets tried to do this yesterday but MJD outsmarted them. Not sure Addai would have realized the same.

    Is it me or did it seem the offense went ultra-conservative in the last few possessions? You have to go for the jugular against the Colts.

  4. Ricky, it’s not just you. The offense was too conservative down the stretch, especially after Manning’s INT at the Indy 30 midway through the quarter with the Pats up by 10. A TD there and an Indy comeback is very, very unlikely. But they went conservative, settled for a FG, and you know the rest of the story.

    This team is going nowhere until they can find their own pair like Freeney and Mathis. In Bill Polian’s NFL of 2009, you pressure the QB consistently, or you die.

    Get Julius Peppers in the offseason!! Whatever it takes to get him, just get him.

    Oh, and nice phantom PI call on Butler to give the Colts 31 gift yards just when they needed a big play and a quick score. Polian’s day will come….it will come.

  5. If I’m facing 4th and 2 on my own 28 in a VIDEO GAME, I wouldn’t even go for it in that spot. They had a punter who was getting huge net yardage on his kicks. Assume he boots it 45 yards net. Then they have to go 73 yards. Even though the Colts were rolling, I’d take my chances on that rather than calling a 1 yard out on 4th and 2.

    Belichick’s ego has become so enormous that it will have its own congressman after the 2010 census.

    This team will not win the Super Bowl. Please alert me if there has been a championship-winning team that has blown 17 point leads late in games.

    Patriots are 5-0 at home, 1-0 on a neutral site. They have not won in another team’s stadium ALL YEAR! Teams that have won a game in another team’s stadium this year include Kansas City, Oakland, Buffalo, and Cleveland.

    So yeah, I’d say blowing home field is kind of a big deal.

    • I’m not so sure it was his ego as much as his fear of his defense’s ability to stop the Colts no matter where they got the football. Indy was going to score there, whether they got the ball at their 29 or NE’s 29 IMO.

      I said it above……forget the Super Bowl until this team finds a pass rush. Ain’t gonna happen this year, but in the offseason they may be able to make a few moves.

      The Polian Rules have changed everything, and you have to rush the passer to play effective pass defense in the NFL now. Belichick has been very, very slow to realize that, unfortunately.

  6. Sleepless in NJ says:

    Could not sleep after that devastating loss! At least it was not the playoffs. Not as bad as:
    1) Loss to Giants in Superbowl,
    2) Loss to Colts in AFC Championship,
    3) Loss to Broncos in playoffs.

    As long as Tom, Randy, & Wes remain healthy, we still have a good chance. Maybe this loss will provide the motivation the team needs…

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