REPORT CARD: Patriots Win with Mediocre Performance

Derek Havens
December 05, 2011 at 09:00am ET

The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon 31 – 24. While the team did get the victory, this team still has work to do in the last month of the regular season. Here is my report card for week 13. -

Wes Welker was targeted 11 times and made all 11 catches, totaling 114 yards in the process. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Offense Grade: B

Tom Brady had another great game. The future Hall of Fame quarterback finished 29 for 38, 289 yards and two touchdowns. Brady now has 291 career TDs, which ties him with Warren Moon for 6th most all-time. John Elway is 5th at 300 TD passes.

Second-year tight end Rob Gronkowski is an absolute monster and he had another great game on Sunday afternoon. He finished the night with five receptions, 64 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a lateral pass, officially ruled a rush, for two yards and a score. With four games left to go this season, Gronkowski has tied the NFL record of 13 touchdowns in a single season.

New England’s running game needs to produce more. I do not expect the team to put up big numbers on a weekly basis, they are a passing team after all, but they need to have more of an impact in the playoffs. Against the Colts 31st ranked rushing defense in the NFL, the team totaled 73 yards at 3 yards per carry.

The offense continues to start slow, but work itself into a groove as the game progresses. I would love to see them get off to a quicker start for the rest of the season.

Defense Grade: D

For starters, I do not expect the defense to be elite, but I would like to see them make some stops when it counts. The unit struggled against a quarterback who had never won a game in the NFL and was the main stater for the Detroit Lions when they went 0 - 16.

I thought the tackling was solid, but the third down defense was deplorable. The Colts converted 6 - 11 on third downs and it seemed like they had even more success than that number indicates.

In terms of coverage - When you play a soft zone, there will eventually be holes if the pressure does not reach the quarterback in time. The pressure was worse than in previous weeks and Dan Orlovsky never had to get rid of the ball quickly. I would have liked to see the defensive backs move up and play more physical against the Colts receivers.

It seemed the defense was content with letting Indy's offense make easy completions and keeping the play in front of them; a very frustrating sight for Patriots fans throughout the game. The unit's fourth quarter performance was awful and overall, they need to improve to have success in the playoffs.

Special Teams Grade: A-

Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter, and Zoltan Mesko had four solid punts, averaging 46.8 yards per attempt. New England's return coverage was only ok, but Julian Edelman has proved to be a threat when he has an opportunity to return the ball.

Overall Game Grade: B-

Overall, I thought the Patriots played well for the majority of the game, but like I previously mentioned, this team still has work to do moving forward. Never the less, a win is always great to have as the team is vying for the top overall seed in the AFC. One caveat I would add for this game, however, is the experimenting Belichick did to start the game. It seemed the Patriots were trying several new defensive looks and players at different positions.

When the team used their base defense and personnel, the unit buckled down. No excuse for some of the plays made against the team, but this game was never really in doubt in my opinion. I will have further analysis on this game and the Redskins game throughout the week. Stay tuned.

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