In a game that was supposed to be highlighted by high scoring offenses, the Patriots defense and special teams stole the show. Yes, I know Tom Brady and the Patriots offense had 446 yards of offense and only punted twice, but that wasn’t nearly as impressive or as surprising as the Patriots defense/special teams in the Patriots 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
After the Patriots special teams tied the game at 14-14 on a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman, Aqib Talib, making his Patriots debut, recorded his first interception as a Patriot and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown. That touchdown gave the Patriots a lead they would not relinquish. After the Talib touchdown, 4 out of the next 5 scores belonged to the Patriots and caused Andrew Luck and the young Colts offense to press and make too many mistakes.
Luck, who I predicted would have problems with an opportunistic (despite weak) Patriots defense, had one of his worst games to date. While he still threw for over 300 yards again, a large portion of that was once the game had been decided. Luck had 4 total turnovers (3 INT’s and a fumble) and two of those were returned for touchdowns.
On the other side of the field, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense continued to click and added to their impressive run of offensive dominance. The Patriots have now scored 141 points in their last 3 games and lead the league in just about every offensive team category (points, first downs, plays, etc). Tom Brady threw for his 19th, 20th, and 21st touchdowns and still only has 3 interceptions on the year (0 fumbles) and the offensive line didn’t give up a sack all day.
Unfortunately though, in a day full of big plays and positive signs, the only bad news for the Patriots came after the game, when they found out they would be without their star tight end Rob Gronkowski for 4-6 weeks. Gronkowski, who had 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, was diagnosed with a broken forearm. While this injury is obviously a big one to the offense, the Patriots can at least rest assured in the fact that their other athletic freak of a tight end, Aaron Hernandez, should be back in time for Thursday’s game against the Jets.
At the end of the day, we saw glimpses of the future in Andrew Luck and the Colts offense. However, Tom Brady and the Patriots appear FAR from ready to pass the torch quite yet.