Up 31-17 with just over two minutes to go, it seemed that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had done enough to ensure New England had the game in hand.
Or at least so it seemed anyway.
Back up quarterback Brian Hoyer entered the game at that point, but the problem was Indianapolis still had three timeouts and the two minute warning. It ended up giving them yet another shot to make a game of what had earlier been a 31-3 deficit.
Tom Brady knows they didn’t play well for 60-minutes on Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
They ran the ball three straight times with Stevan Ridley, with the two minute warning stopping the clock the first time after a 4 yard gain, followed by the Colts calling a timeout after a gain of 2 on second down, followed by no gain on 3rd down. Zoltan Mesko then punted the ball down to the Indianapolis 10 yard line.
The Colts then went deep on their fourth play from scrimmage, with wide receiver Pierre Garcon making a huge catch against Devin McCourty for 40 yards, giving them the ball at the Patriots 12-yard line. They went right back to him again for a 12-yard touchdown reception, which cut the lead to 31-24 with :36 to go in the game.
Unfortunately for Indianapolis there just wasn’t enough time left, and that touchdown finished off a 21-point quarter that left them on the wrong end of a 31-24 loss. After Deion Branch recovered the ensuing onside kick, Brady came back out to kneel down and let the final seconds tick away.
While the game may have never really been in doubt, Brady knows it should never have even been that close. Despite the win head coach Bill Belichick didn’t seem pleased after the game, and Brady says they’ll definitely hear about the fact they didn’t put together a complete effort.
“We played good for 45 minutes and then didn’t do anything offensively in the fourth quarter,” said Brady, who finished Sunday’s game 29-of-38 for 289 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to Hoyer. “So we’ll hear about that tomorrow.”
The 21 points New England gave up was their highest fourth quarter total allowed this season, with the previous high coming in week three when they gave up 17 against the Bills in what ended up being a 34-31 road loss.
Fortunately this one worked out in their favor, although it had seemed like they had this one wrapped up to start the third quarter when they opened in the no-huddle. According to the official game book they ran 15 plays from the hurry-up through the final two quarters, including six straight to start the second half. That drive ended with Rob Gronkowski scoring his second touchdown of the afternoon, which put them up 24-3 less than three minutes into the third quarter.
They went to the hurry-up six more times on their next possession, which helped set up what ended up being ruled a 2-yard touchdown run by Gronkowski after the officials decided that Brady completed the pass behind the tight end. As a result it was ruled a lateral, but nevertheless New England was up 31-3.
From there they didn’t have as much success on their next two drives. After the Colts put together a 15 play, 86-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard touchdown run by Donald Brown to cut the lead to 31-10, New England went three and out on their next two possessions. The second one was frustrating because it came on the heels of an incredible interception by linebacker Jerod Mayo, who made a Tedy Bruschi-esque diving midair grab to give the Patriots great field position at their own 44.
Brady admitted that while they had some success going to the no-huddle, it comes down to everybody being on the same page in order for it to work consistently.
“It’s on everybody. Offensive football is all all eleven guys being on the same page,” said Brady. “I thought we definitely did that at times today. The middle part of the game was awesome. We just came up third, fourth, and a quarter of a yard short on the one and then never got out of the long yardage situation there in the second to last drive. We’ll try and do a better job of that next week.”
Unfortunately they couldn’t capitalize, and after a 52 yard boot by Mesko pinned the Colts at their own 7, they started marching. Following four plays that got them out to their own 39, it was Indianapolis who went to the no-huddle. On six straight plays they used the hurry-up, and then facing a 3rd-and-6 at the Patriots 33, Don Orlovsky found Pierre Garcon for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 31-17 with 2:12 to go.
Fortunately in the end, they came away with the win. Now that they’re 9-3 Brady knows that they could have played better, but he’s ready to move on and start focusing on next week’s battle down in Washington.
“I thought we could have executed better at times,” said Brady. “But I’m glad we won, but we’ve got to move on.”