BOSTON (CBS) — With a Saturday night trip to Indianapolis to face a worthy opponent in the Colts, the Patriots faced a major test this week.

Yet when it finally came time to take that test, the Patriots weren’t ready to go.

While the Patriots did force a Colts punt on the game’s opening possession, nothing went well for New England for the remainder of the first quarter.

Actually, they did get a little bit lucky after forcing that punt, as Gunner Olszewski’s fumble on the punt return slowly trickled out of bounds before any Colts could recover it.

Alas, the good luck was over.

After driving 30 yards on their first four plays, the Patriots threw it into reverse. An ineligible player downfield penalty negated a 14-yard screen to Jonnu Smith. A delay of game penalty pushed the Pats back five more yards. Then Mac Jones ran backward trying to escape a pass rusher, but was taken down by DeForest Buckner for a 15-yard sack.

The Patriots punted on fourth-and-30.

At that point, the Colts just put the game in the hands of their top-ranked rushing offense. They ran seven straight rushing plays, gaining 70 yards. On first-and-goal from the 8-yard line, they technically ran a passing play … but it was really a rushing play with a quick forward pass in the backfield. That one went for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0.

The Patriots got the ball back, and once again, things went poorly. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn got lost on a rushing play and ended up essentially tackling Rhamondre Stevenson for a loss of three yards:

Jakobi Meyers wasn’t able to make a diving catch on the next snap, when Mac Jones arced a picture-perfect pass to the receiver up the left sideline on third down.

Then, the Patriots lined up to punt.

Then … things got ugly.

Colts special teams linebacker Matthew Adams burst past Jakob Johnson and easily blocked Jake Bailey’s punt. E.J. Speed recovered it in the end zone to put the Colts up 14-0.

It’s tough to win on the road most weeks in the NFL. It’s especially tough to win on the road while committing penalties, tackling teammates, and allowing blocked punts to fall behind by two touchdowns.

Things got slightly better in the second quarter, with the defense stiffening in the red zone and holding Indy to a field goal, before the Patriots embarked on a long drive deep into Colts territory. Alas, Jones threw a horrific interception on third-and-3 at the 15-yard line, ending the driveline and keeping the goose egg on the scoreboard for the Patriots.

The Patriots made a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit from 20-0 to 20-17. But a Jonathan Taylor touchdown run ended their hopes in what ended up being a 27-17 Colts victory.

CBSBoston.com Staff