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The New England Patriots advanced to 9-3 on Sunday, albeit in surprisingly difficult fashion, beating the Colts 31-24 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Indianapolis dropped to 0-12 on the season.
The Patriots jumped out to a third-quarter 31-3 lead, but surrendered a trio of touchdowns in the fourth before recovering an onside kick with 36 seconds remaining to seal the contest.
Tom Brady and the New England offense moved at will in the second and third-quarters to give the Patriots a huge advantage. Brady finished the afternoon with 289 yards and two touchdowns on 29-38 passing. Both his touchdowns with to sophomore tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski also recorded a two-yard rushing score, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis registered his seventh touchdown of the year in the second-quarter.
On the other hand, the defense was not impressive at all. Colts’ QB Dan Orlovsky looked like the heir apparent to Peyton Manning, tossing for 353 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick, on 30-37 passing against a pourous Patriots’ secondary. Coach Bill Belichick will have a lot to review this week, as the Colts totaled 437 yards and had a 35:39-24:21 time-of-possession advantage.
Gronkowski continues to be an absolute menace for opposing defenses, hauling in two Brady touchdown passes from 11 and 21 yards en route to the huge Patriots lead. The Arizona-alum also had a rushing touchdown on a TE screen for his third score of the game, a two-yard run to cap New England’s scoring on the afternoon. He finished the game with five catches for 64 yards.
After a mid-season blip, Welker has regained his form in the past eight days. Welker finished the afternoon with 11 catches for 110 yards, and was Brady’s security blanket on many critical downs. It was Welker’s first game with double-digit receptions since his 16-catch performance against the Bills in Week 3.
Wilfork was one of the few contributors on Belichick’s defense, abusing the Colts’ interior line. Wilfork finished the afternoon with 10 tackles, including a first-quarter sack on the first drive of the game.
It boggles the mind how this team can continue to struggle in the fourth-quarter of games. Orlovsky led three scoring drives of 88, 93, and 90 yards in the fourth quarter that cut a 31-3 edge to a 31-24 final. The offense was also ineffective in the fourth stanza, garnering zero first-downs and points.
After a four and out by the Indianapolis offense to begin the game, Coach Bill Belichick’s defense struggled on their second drive. The D allowed a 19-play, 71-yard drive that took 10:19 off the clock. The Patriots had the ball for just 3:13 during the frame.
For some reason, despite one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Patriots can not develop their ground game. New England totaled just 73-yards on the ground against the NFL’s second-worst run defense. Steven Ridley was the team’s leading rusher with 33 yards on eight carries.
The Patriots are back on the road next Sunday, traveling to Fedex Field in Landover, Md. to take on the struggling Washington Redskins (4-8) at 1:00 p.m. on CBS