The Patriots (9-3) came into their latest game off of a victory last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, to face the Colts (0-12) on Sunday. New England opened up a comfortable lead in the second half, but saw the Colts fight back in their 31-24 home victory at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots yet again seem to start slow on offense, and to the Colts credit, they hung in there going into the second half. However, the Patriots would take control starting in the second quarter, and scored 4 touchdowns in 4 consecutive drives.

The Colts would come roaring back in the fourth quarter as they scored 3 touchdowns. The Patriots took their foot off the gas, and Dan Orlovsky really victimized the Patriots defense. The Patriots held on in the end, but the victory left a bad taste in my mouth.

So what did we learn from watching the game Sunday?

The first thing we learned is it seems that Patriots offense needs some kind of jolt to get into gear in the beginning of games. When they struggle offensively, the Patriots have been using the “hurry up” to jumpstart the offense. It seems to work very often, but the bigger issue has to be the slow starts by this unit.

The second thing we learned is that the Patriots defense needs to play 60 minutes. I don’t think this unit played well at all, but especially in the fourth quarter when they let a back-up quarterback carve them up.  It doesn’t matter who the opponent the Patriots play. The Patriots defense is not good enough to cruise in a game. The same thing happened against Pittsburgh last season.

On offense, Tom Brady was again tremendous as he threw for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. His main target was again Rob Gronkowski who scored two touchdowns and ran for another one. However, the running game was not great against a poor Colts rush defense. They only ran for a total of 73 yards, and was not that effective.

On defense, the fourth quarter was horrible, but I thought they did not play great the entire game. Dan Orlovsky threw for 353 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Two indicators of how poor the defense played are on third down, and in the red-zone. The Patriots defense was a terrible 66% on third down conversion. This unit could not get off the field. Also, the Colts were 2-3 in the red-zone with 2 touchdowns.

As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game and below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Colts.”

1. The Patriots on offense should run right at the defensive ends of the Colts. I have to give credit to the Colts as the Patriots really had a tough time running the ball. The Patriots as a whole averaged 3 yards per carry.

2. The Patriots offense need to make their yards in the middle of the field. This key certainly went in the favor of the Patriots in this game. Wes Welker caaught 11 balls for 110 yards, and the majority of them were in the middle of the field. Both tight ends took advantage in the middle as they combined for 12 catches.

3. Andre Carter and Mark Anderson need to bring the pressure. Carter and Anderson did not get great pressure on the quarterback. At times, Orlosvky had plenty of time to find his receivers. A strong pass rush is very important to this defense, and these two players didn’t have any sacks.

4. Jerod Mayo needs to control the middle of the defense. Mayo I thought played well and he actually had an interception in this game. Mayo had seven tackles as well, and looks like he is rounding back into form.

5. Kyle Arrington needs to continue to prove he can make plays. Arrington and the entire secondary were very poor in this game. Arrington right now is the leader back there, and he still has something to prove. I want to see him bring it every week, and continue to make plays. Against the Colts his performance was just not good enough.

So what did we learn from this game? The most important thing we learned is that this team needs to play together for 60 minutes. I think it is important to continue to improve, and feel good about yourself. How good can you feel after that performance on Sunday? Every win is important, but that victory left a bad taste in my mouth.

What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of  the Patriots 31-24 victory against the Colts.