By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 on Sunday night.
While the team did get the victory, they still have a lot of work to do moving forward. Here is my report card for this week. —
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount scored four touchdowns Sunday, lifting New England to a 43-22 victory against the Indianapolis Colts.
(USA TODAY Images)
Offense Grade: A
The Patriots dominated on the ground and tailback LeGarrette Blount led the charge. The 27-year-old running back rushed 24 times for 166 yards — 162 yards between the tackles — and four touchdowns. The Pats rushed for 234 yards on the day, controlling the line of scrimmage, one of the many key takeaways from the contest.
The offensive line pushed around the Colts defensive line on the ground, but Tom Brady was sacked twice. That being said, the unit kept Defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Mathis in check for the majority of the contest; a big focus heading into the divisional matchup.
Brady had time to spread the ball around, but New England did not pass a whole lot throughout the game. The Pats signal-caller completed 13-of-25 passes, for 198 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass in the contest.
Defense Grade: B +
The Patriots defense played well Sunday and had key contributions from several players. The best news for the Pats, this appears to be the healthiest the defense has been in several weeks.
The Colts racked up almost 400 yards, but turned the ball over four times, Andrew Luck was sacked three times and the team went 6-of-15 on third down. The Pats had an answer for almost everything Indy did offensively, but were beaten over the top a few times. It wasn’t perfect, but a strong group effort by the Patriots.
The secondary showed quality depth, which will be much needed moving forward. Devin McCourty, Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan all played well. Steve Gregory and Kyle Arrington have struggled the past few weeks, though. It’s unclear if it was health or performance related, but Ryan took over for Arrington as the third cornerback for the majority of the contest.
The star of the game defensively was Jamie Collins. The rookie linebacker was all over the field Sunday, finishing with six tackles, a sack and an interception. Not all of the plays showed up in the stat sheet, as Collins played tremendous in coverage as well. With Brandon Spikes going to injured-reserve earlier in the week and linebacker being thin for New England, his emergence came at the perfect time. His athletic ability is fun to watch.
Special Teams Grade: C
The Patriots special teams play has been solid all year, but the team struggled Sunday.
Three different players were called for illegal block in the back penalties and a high, sailing snap by Danny Aiken put two points on the board for Indianapolis. Ryan Allen attempted to save the punt, but the rookie should have punted the ball into the endzone. The situation could have been much worse for the Patriots, but the ball bounced their way.
Stephen Gostkowski had a stellar year kicking field goals, but the team didn’t settle for three once Sunday. Gostkowski was valuable in other ways, however, taking over punting responsibilities once Allen was injured. Gostkowski punted five times, averaging 41.8 yards-per-punt and pining the Colts inside the 20 twice with only one touchback. He was great in an emergency role.
Also, Matthew Slater and Kanorris Davis did a great job in kick, punt coverage for the Pats. Slater in particular has been such a strong special team player all year. It’s an often-overlooked aspect of the game, but it’s important.
Overall Grade: B +
Overall, the Patriots continued their strong play into the playoffs and as a fan, analyst or spectator; you have to like how the team is playing at this juncture of the season. Despite a year of bumps, bruises and season-ending injuries, the team has found a way to come out on top more often than not.
New England has built up some momentum in the past few weeks, defeating the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills by a combined score of 75-27, and then throttling the Colts at home 43-22. Now the team goes on the road to face the Denver Broncos for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
I’l have more on that game later in the week. For now, check out my initial thoughts on the contest.
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