This wasn't supposed to be a close game. The New England Patriots came in flying high at 4-0 and scoring at will. The Indianapolis Colts, while 3-2, sneaked by each of the three teams in the AFC south—all of which have losing records. Furthermore, Andrew Luck was coming back after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury and had been stymied by the Patriots in each of the games he played against Bill Belichick's defense. But that's why they play the games.
The Colts played their best game of the season so far, but unfortunately for the home team it was in a losing effort as the Patriots held on to win 34-27. However, it wouldn't be a Colts/Patriots game without some controversy and late game drama. In this game, there were both.
New England recovered a surprise onside kick in the second quarter that looked like a Colts recovery, and the Colts would tack on a late touchdown to pull within one score with over a minute left but could not recover the onside kick.
From the opening drive, the Colts showed they meant business. They went for it on fourth and one and converted with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donte Moncrief as they drove 89 yards in 13 plays, which ate up over half the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
However, Tom Brady and the Patriots were not deterred. They answered with a touchdown from Brady to Julian Edelman in just over four minutes to tie the game. Early in the second, New England got their first lead on a 40-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. After a Colts punt, the Patriots got the ball back. Brady threw to Edelman once again but the pass went off his hands and into the mitts of safety Mike Adams, who returned it 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Colts a 14-10 lead.
After that, the onside kick that people will be talking about happened. It looked like a Colts recovery, but it was ruled a Patriots recovery on the field. The Colts challenged but the call was upheld. LeGarrette Blount capped off the short drive with a 38-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots back in front 17-14.
Indianapolis came right back with an 80 yard drive that culminated with a three-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton which gave the Colts the lead back at 21-17. However, the Patriots had one last drive before half. On third and goal, a play that looked like a touchdown pass to Scott Chandler was called back as offensive pass interference. Chandler was called for putting his hand in the face of the Colts defensive back. So the Patriots settled for a field goal and trailed 21-20 going into the break.
The Patriots wasted no time taking the lead in the second half. They took the ball 80 yards down the field in seven plays with a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski, who did not have a catch in the first half.
The Colts were still very much in the game in the third quarter until they ran one of the most bizarre plays I have ever seen. On a fourth down in their own territory, they were lined up to punt and then went into the swinging gate to the right of the formation, leaving receiver Griff Whalen at center and safety Colt Anderson under center. With two Patriots players lined up adjacent to Whalen, Anderson took the snap and was stopped immediately for a one yard loss. Just like that, the Patriots had the ball on the Colts 35.
After the fourth quarter had started, Brady hit Blount for an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up 34-21. Still, the Colts would not go away.
With 5:05 left in the game, the Colts started a drive and worked their way into Patriots territory at the 28, but four straight incompletions saw them turn it over on downs with 3:36 left. Indianapolis would get it back with 3:03 to go and drove 85 yards in eight plays for the touchdown pass from Luck to Whalen. A blocked extra point by Jamie Collins kept the game at 34-27. With 1:19 in the game, the Colts attempted the onside kick but Gronkowski was there to recover it and seal the win for the Patriots.
The Colts have now lost all three games they have played against the AFC east, but won all three against the AFC south. They played well in this one, and Luck was clearly not 100 percent as he had a handful of throws sail on him in this game.
Next week they will host the New Orleans Saints for their first NFC game of the season. Meanwhile, the Patriots will put their undefeated record on the line at home as they take on the surprising 4-1 New York Jets for first place in the AFC East. The Jets have already equaled their win total for last season and nearly beat the Patriots in Foxborough last season, losing 27-25 as a last second field goal attempt by Nick Folk was blocked. Should be a good one next week.