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Brady outplays Luck, Patriots rout Colts 59-24

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Brady outplays Luck, Patriots rout Colts 59-24

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots superb offense finally got some help from the rest of the team.

The Patriots used three scoring passes from Tom Brady, two touchdowns on interception returns and another on a punt return to match a team single-game scoring record in a 59-24 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The first matchup between three-time Super Bowl winner Brady and star rookie Andrew Luck was no match.

The Patriots (7-3) won their fourth straight game and extended their lead in the AFC East to three games over the other three teams. The Colts (6-4) had their four-game winning streak stopped by the NFL's best offense and one of its worst defenses.

Now New England must hurry to prepare for its Thanksgiving night meeting with the Jets (4-6). New York ended a three-game slide with a 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams.

For the Patriots, Sunday's win was their most complete in a season in which they've averaged 35.8 points per game and lost their three games by a combined margin of four points.

The 59 points equals the team mark set in a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 18, 2009.

The Patriots scored on a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman and on interception returns of 59 yards by newcomer Aqib Talib and 87 yards by Alfonzo Dennard. And Rob Ninkovich's fifth forced fumble of the season set up Rob Gronkowski's second scoring grab on the next play.

Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards and no interceptions. Luck was 27 for 50 for two touchdowns and 334 yards and set an NFL record as the first rookie with five 300-yard games. But he also threw three interceptions.

The Colts were competitive - for one half. The Patriots led 24-17 heading into the third quarter.

Then the Patriots scored on passes of 2 yards to Edelman and 24 yards to Gronkowski and Dennard's interception return.

Luck followed with a 43-yard scoring pass to T.Y. Hilton, the second of the game to the fellow rookie, But the Patriots responded with touchdown runs of 3 yards by Stevan Ridley and 4 yards by Shane Vereen.

The game began with touchdowns on the first three series - a 1-yard run by Delone Carter of the Colts, a 4-yard pass from Brady to Gronkowski, and a 14-yard pass from Luck to Hilton.

Stephen Gostkowski then missed a 36-yard field goal attempt for the Patriots.

But their fortunes changed four plays later when Edelman brought a punt back for a touchdown for the third time in his career after the defense forced Luck into a three-and-out. And just three plays and 61 seconds after that, the Patriots scored again on Talib's touchdown as the Patriots took the lead for good 21-14 with 10:59 left in the second quarter.

The catch was an easy one - Luck threw the ball high over Reggie Wayne's head - but the run was exceptional as Talib cut from the right side of the field all the way to the left, eluding numerous Colts.

The Patriots obtained Talib from Tampa Bay before last Sunday's 37-31 win over Buffalo. But he sat that one out to complete a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, booed often in a stadium where he once was adored, cut the lead to 21-17 on a 47-yard field goal 5:46 before intermission.

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.