BOSTON (CBS) – There is plenty to be thankful for as the Patriots improve to 7-3 on the season following a 59-24 rout of the Colts at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots got down early, but piled on late as the offense, defense and special teams produced. Here are the Ups and Downs from New England’s big win over the Colts.
Edelman Does It All
After getting yelled at by Tom Brady last week against Buffalo, Julian Edelman was probably his favorite player against the Colts.
Edelman did it all for the Patriots. He returned a punt 68-yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to tie the game at 14. He caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Brady in the third. And he wrapped up his huge day with a 47-yard rush on an end-around play in the fourth quarter to set up another touchdown.
Not to be forgotten is Edelman’s 49-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. In all, he finished with 117 return yards on two punts, 58 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, and one big run for 47 yards.
Talib’s first big play with the Patriots came at the perfect time, as his pick-six gave New England a 21-14 lead following Edelman’s punt return.
Andrew Luck’s pass was right to Talib, but he made a great cut across the field and took the pick back 59 yards for the score. He was winded, but it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be after not playing for five weeks while on suspension.
Talib had both good and bad plays as a part of the New England secondary, but his pick-six – paired with Edelman’s kick return – really got the Patriots going and they never looked back.
Last season, Gronkowski torched the Colts with a three touchdown afternoon. This year he only had two scores, but caught all seven passes Tom Brady sent his way for a team-high 137 yards.
Gronkowski is now the first tight end in NFL history to have three straight 10-touchdown seasons. He also tied some Patriots history with his ninth 100+ yard game, tying Ben Coates for the most all-time for a New England tight end.
UPDATE: There is some bad news out of Gronkowski’s day, as he reportedly suffered a broken forearm and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Offensive Line Solid Without Mankins and Connolly
The Patriots were without their top two guards on the offensive line, and Tom Brady still remained clean for the entire game. The Colts registered just two QB hits, and none of them were particularly big as Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald did their jobs.
That is comforting for New England, as they have just four days to rest up for their Thanksgiving night matchup with the Jets.
For all the concern nearly everyone had for the offensive line in the pre-season, they have had a stellar regular season in keeping Brady upright and healthy.
Chandler Jones Injured
The Patriots first pick in last year’s draft left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. He walked off under his own power, and at first it looked like he just needed to be re-taped, but then went back to the locker room for X-Rays.
Jones was on the sidelines shortly after, but was absent for the second half. This would be a huge loss for the Patriots defensive line, as Jones has six sacks on the year.
Third Down Defense
The Patriots defense once again had major problems getting off the field on third down. The Colts went 8-for-14 on third downs, and although it didn’t hurt them in this game, that percentage will haunt the Patriots.
It wasn’t a great day for Arrington, who was whistled for a 40-yard pass interference that set up the Colts first touchdown.
Arrington was penalized again on the following drive, and then found himself replaced by rookie Alfonzo Dennard the rest of the way.
Run Game Can’t Get Going
The Patriots have had a balanced offensive attack for most of the season, but the run game couldn’t get things going against the Colts.
Stevan Ridley managed just 28 yards on 13 carries, and saw Shane Vereen get most of the carries in the second half. Vereen finished the afternoon with 40 yards off 11 carries and a touchdown, while Danny Woodhead watched from the sidelines.
At least they’ll be well-rested for Thursday night’s game in New York.