On Sunday the Patriots handled the Indianapolis Colts exactly how they should have. Andrew Luck got a taste of the Patriots aggression on defense and saw how efficient Tom Brady can be. It was a nice change considering how the team has struggled against lesser opponents this season.
It was another big day for the linebackers with Jerod Mayo leading the way with 10 tackles as the defense got aggressive. (FILE:USPresswire)
The win was impressive with the Patriots tying their franchise record and putting up 59 points, and it should be noted that the Patriots finally played some cohesive football. Special teams came up huge with Julian Edelman returning a punt for a touchdown, in addition to his five carries for 58 yards. And the defense made adjustments after the first few series made it seem like this game was headed for a shootout. They got aggressive and collapsed the pocket on Luck. That is where they had their success. Vince Wilfork had two tipped passes and was in the face of Luck all game. When Chandler Jones left with an ankle injury, Jermaine Cunningham filled in flawlessly and worked with the linebackers to really turn up the heat. Brandon Spikes was quick off the line in the blitz and he was as aggressive as ever, without being reckless.
The secondary still struggled allowing Luck to pick up 334 passing yards but they did show improvement with only one pass interference penalty and it came in the first quarter. The rest of the game was clean and that was refreshing. There is nothing worse than watching a defense beat itself with penalties. The introduction of Aqib Talib went better than expected. He returned an interception 59 yards for a score and had seven tackles. It seems like he fits the system pretty well. Devin McCourty is solid at safety with Patrick Chung still dealing with a shoulder injury and it seems the addition of Talib can buy him some more time to recover.
The defense really excelled when it blitzed. That rattled Luck and when the pocked collapsed he had a tougher time putting the ball on target. But that is not to take anything away from the rookie. He showed his strength when Rob Ninkovich tried to pull him down by the collar and still managed to complete a pass downfield. He made some great passes and really took control of his team. Granted he threw three interceptions, two of which resulted in touchdowns, there’s no way he walked away from this game without gaining something. This was a great learning experience and it will make him a better quarterback moving forward this season.
Offensively the scheme worked well for the Patriots. Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski each had seven receptions and Gronk had two touchdowns. It was a nice change to see him healthy enough to make the plays we grew so accustomed to last season. With the substitutions on the offensive line the run game took a bit of a hit but Brady did not and that is okay by me. Hopefully Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly were kept out of Sunday’s game to give them more rest for Thursday but only time will tell.
It’s a quick turn around for the Pats as they head to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets in primetime on Thursday. Hopefully they didn’t use up all their offense and can find their way back to the hurry up. If the defense is as aggressive with Mark Sanchez as it was with Luck, they should have another big three phase victory.