Ouch. That one hurt.
Well, it was a measuring stick game, for sure. But the Colts' and their fans won't like the results. Today we saw just how far this team has to go yet. Sure, this team can still get to nine wins and a playoff berth. But we saw today just how outmatched the Colts are against one of the best teams in the AFC.
Andrew Luck played what, in my opinion, was his worst game of the year. He made several bad throws, including two interceptions which were returned for touchdowns. The first was an overthrow to Reggie Wayne, the second one of the worst passes you will see, where Luck threw behind Reggie on an out route that was easily taken 87 yards for the score. He did make some great plays, just not nearly enough. His touchdown pass in the first quarter? Perfect throw. That unbelievable throw in the 3rd quarter where he somehow evaded the sure sack and made a great throw for the first down? One of the best plays he has made this year. But he turned the ball over four times and missed on several other throws. He had just as rough of a day as the rest of the team.
The defense only gave up 31 of the 59 points today. But don't get too excited - that is on only 8 drives, and one of them ended in a missed field goal that was easily make-able. The Colts' special teams had their worst day of the year, allowing a punt return for a touchdown to Julian Edelman and would have allowed another one to him, had it not been for Pat McAfee making the tackle. The Colts' didn't do much in the return game either.
The game swung completely on that punt return touchdown. It was immediately followed up by the first of Luck's two pick-6's. From there, the game got out of hand. Believe it or not, the Colts actually led 14-7 before that sequence of disasters.
Bottom line is that this game is just one game. No more, no less. Whether they lose by one or by 35 like they did today, it still only counts for one L in the loss column. This team just needs to put this game behind them and gear up for their playoff run.
Below are some additional thoughts from today's game.
- The Colts' offense started very well. They ran the ball well all day (24-119-1) but got away from the run game as the game got away from them. Vick Ballard was impressive again today, especially early on.
- LaVon Brazill had his most impressive day of the year. Caught 2 passes for 46 yards but was very impressive with his speed.
- The Colts only had one penalty today, a season low. And they lost by 35. Of course.
- Fili Moala played very well today.
- Cory Redding suffered a hip injury in the 4th quarter and did not return. He was carted to the locker room. Teddy Williams suffered a calf injury and did not return. Donnie Avery suffered a concussion and did not return. The severity of those injuries remain to be seen.
- On the punt return, that one penalty killed the Colts. A very good punt by Pat McAfee had good hangtime but was negated because of a false start penalty. The next punt was a bad one and Edelman took it back 68 yards for a score.
- Umm, Patriot fans: why boo Adam Vinatieri? Without him, you don't have two of your three super bowl rings. Not even that, but his kick in the blizzard set your Patriots on the path towards a dynasty - without that kick, who knows if the Patriots even get one? Yeah, so don't boo him the entire freaking day. Thanks.
- The clock management at the end of the first half was not very good. The Colts left a timeout on the board. Adam Vinatieri actually had plenty of leg for the 58 yard field goal but was wide left. In my opinion, Pat McAfee should have kicked that field goal, but Vinatieri had the leg, so can't complain too much.
- What I can complain about, however, is Bruce Arians' decision to punt on 4th and 4 from the New England 39 yard line down 14 to Tom Brady in the middle of the 3rd quarter. And he punts it. Inexcusable.
- The Colts had no one that could cover Rob Gronkowski. No one. And that killed them. Gronk had 7 catches for 137 yards and 2 scores.
- The Colts have committed 15 of their 18 turnovers on the road this year.
- Andrew Luck threw for 334 yards, marking his 5th 300 yard passing game of the season, a new rookie record.
- Reggie Wayne, with 7 catches, tied Cris Carter for the NFL record with his 58th straight 3+ reception game. Reggie also went over the 1,000 yard mark on the season today, tying Marvin Harrison's club record with 8 1,000 yard seasons.
- The Colts host the 4-6 Buffalo Bills, who will have had 10 days to prepare for the Colts as they won Thursday night over Miami. The Colts should be expected to win that one, although it won't be easy. They really, really need to win it if they hope to make the playoffs. So follow the 24-hour rule and get ready for Buffalo. And guess what? I'm sure this team will be ready. If there's one thing I know, they won't back down from a fight.