Some highlights from the second quarter:
The Colts managed to get down to the Patriots yard line, but former New England offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka jumped, which backed Indianapolis up to the 5 yard line, and then Rob Ninkovich made a sack to force a 31 yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri to tie the score at 3-3 less than a minute into the second quarter. Â That field goal ended a 19-play, 67 yard drive by the Colts that lasted 10:19. Â Vinatieri was met with a cascade of boos as he came out to kick the field goal, which was somewhat of a surprise considering the difference in intensity this game carries compared to what implications it usually holds.
New England couldn’t answer on their next drive, which stalled after the Patriots got to their own 35-yard line. Â They would go on to punt the ball away, and appeared to catch a break after the ball came out on the Colts return by Joe Lefeged. Â However the officials ruled him down by contact, and Indianapolis kept possession.
On the C0lts next drive, the Patriots forced a three and out, including a near interception by Nate Jones that went off his hands on their 3rd-and-2 attempt.
Wes Welker passed Irving Fryer for 3rd in team history during the second quarter. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
New England then got moving on their ensuing possession, with Tom Brady going to the no-huddle as they started marching down the field. Â A notable play on this drive was Chad Ochocinco’s 12 yard reception on 3rd-and-8, which brought plenty of cheers from the fans who were on hand and extended the drive. Â It was his 12th reception of the season.
From there Rob Gronkowski capped the 16-play 86 yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown reception, his 12th of the season to put the Patriots up 10-3 with 2:57 to go in the half. New England may have picked up the pace on that possession, but they still held the ball for 6:40 and nearly evened the time of possession margin 13:01 to Indianapolis’ 14:02. Â That touchdown to Gronkowski was Brady’s 290th all time, tying him with Johnny Unitas and was his 28th straight regular season game with a touchdown pass.
Gronkowski’s touchdown also tied him with four other NFL players for 2nd most by a tight end in NFL history. Â Wes Welker also had a reception on that drive, with an 18 yard catch giving him 5,729 career receiving yards as a Patriot, passing Irving Fryer for 3rd in team history.
The Patriots forced another 3-and-out for the Colts, and Tom Brady once again put together another scoring drive for the Patriots. Â He marched them 64 yards on 6 plays, and the drive ended with BenJarvus Green-Ellis taking it in from 1 yard out to put them up 17-3 with :13 to go in the half. Â The drive only took 1:21.
The final score at the end of the half was 17-3. Â Here’s a look at the first half stats for the Patriots:
– Tom Brady is 16-of-21 for 158 yards along with a touchdown (QB Rating of 112.8)
– After not registering a first quarter carry, BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 6 times for 14-yards and a touchdown (2.3 avg) during the second quarter.
– The leading receiver so far is Wes Welker, who has 5 catches for 67 yards. Â From there it’s Rob Gronkowski (3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown), Aaron Hernandez (3 catches for 13 yards) and Deion Branch (2 catches, 20 yards).
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