Best and worst: Patriots 34, Colts 27
WORST decision to start the game
Colts kick returner Griff Whalen should have just taken a knee when he caught Stephen Gostkowski's kickoff about eight yards deep into the end zone. Buuuut . . . he wanted to be a hero. He took the ball out of the end zone and was promptly bombarded by Patriots special teamers at the 11-yard line. Not smart, Griff.
BEST start for the Colts
If you're the Indianapolis Colts (apologies, if so), you couldn't have asked for a better way to get things going. They marched 89 yards over 13 plays to find pay dirt. Not only that, but they scored the touchdown on a gutsy 4th-and-1 call by head coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts also burned 7:44 off the clock, which is just a huge as scoring the seven points. The more Tom Brady is on the sidelines, the less damage he can do against you.
BEST sign early on
Far too often Danny Amendola goes without catches during games. Sometimes he even goes without targets -- or maybe one or two total. Well, on the Pats' opening drive, Brady hit Amendola three separate times for 33 yards. It's good that he gets the other guys involved, which in turn will eventually free up guys like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.
After the Patriots defense allowed the Colts to march down the field and score an opening-drive touchdown, the Patriots offense got to work right away. Brady marched his team down the field 80 yards in 10 plays, capped off by Julian Edelman's 12-yard touchdown. Edelman took a good hit in the end zone but held on, and made sure to blast the football into the Colts logo plastered along the padded wall behind the end zone. We're having fun.
Um, what? Not even sure what we just saw there. It looked like Brady just threw an interception, but that can't be true -- can it? In all seriousness, it wasn't Brady's fault. He hit Edelman right in the chest, but Edelman (perhaps favoring that finger) couldn't reel it in, instead hitting it up in the air and into the arms of Colts defensive back Mike Adams, who ran it back 14 yards for a pick-six. Oh boy. That wasn't supposed to happen. Colts lead, 14-10. EVERYBODY STAY CALM.
BEST "remember me? moment
The last time the Colts saw LeGarrette Blount, it was in the form of a blur. Blount ran all over the Colts in the AfC Championship game for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He took everybody back to last year when he ripped a 38-yard touchdown run to give the Patriots back their lead. That guy is going to give Colts fans nightmares.
WORST pass interference penalty
It says a lot about the NFL's officiating that you're not sure exactly which call I'm talking about. There have been a number of questionable ones -- including the offensive pass interference called on Scott Chandler that erased a touchdown -- but the one I'm referencing was called on Devin McCourty on a pass intended for Philip Dorsett. Maybe it was intended for Dorsett, but the ball was thrown way, way out of bounds and by all accounts uncatchable. How the refs could still call that pass interference is beyond me. Does anybody know the rules?
I gotta say, Luck was impressive in this game, at least in the first half. At halftime, he was 17-for-22 for 140 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He made some smart decisions and looks mobile in the pocket. Didn't seen him favoring the shoulder in any way. The interceptions have been a concern for him this season, but so far so good. The Patriots defense hasn't had many answers for him.
BEST New England Tradition
Ah, yes. Another fall weekend in New England. Cold today. Getting colder as we head towards November. Great weekend to get in those fall activities. Apple picking is still going on. Pumpkin picking has to be in absolute full swing. Good weekend for a drive, too -- the leaves are all types of colors now. I checked out Salem on Saturday. Fun place. Oh, and then I watched Rob Gronkowski catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady on Sunday. These are things New Englanders just do regularly in the fall. It's just tradition. Brady to Gronk. As traditional in New England as it gets.
Not the game-changing play of the game, but Malcolm Butler had a great tackle on Colts wideout Donte Moncrief that prevented the Colts from a first down. Moncrief made the catch and Butler caught him from behind and hauled him down for a nine-yard gain instead of the 10 yards that were needed. That forced the Colts to punt from around the 20-yard line. Unfortunately for the Patriots, they couldn't cash in on the ensuing drive. Too bad, as New England had a six-point lead and could have opened it up.
Last week, the Patriots took a big hit when Dont'a Hightower left the game. He didn't suit up tonight against the Colts and was certainly missed. But it got even worse for the Patriot defense when it was announced in the third quarter that Jabaal Sheard was questionable to return with an ankle injury. Sheard has been the team's best defensive linemen this season -- and really, one of the better defensive linemen in the league through Week 6. In the first half, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon left the game and didn't return. The Patriots are already thin on the O-line after losing Nate Solder for the season.
WORST play in the history of football
. . . hahahahahahaha *inhales* hahahahahahaha. What on earth was that? You already know the play - and I use the word "play" very loosely here because it really wasn't one. I mean, in what world can you just take your entire offensive line and line them up basically out of bounds? What page is that formation on in the rule book? I missed it I guess. Just absolutely bonkers decision by Chuck Pagano. You don't try illegal formations on the Patriots. They invented illegal formations. Come on. Here's what I hope: I hope the Colts were just trying to get the Patriots to jump offsides or something. I hope the ball was never supposed to be hiked. Otherwise, just fire Pagano right now. The Colts were in the game up to that point, made some bonehead illegal formation play, handed the Patriots ball on a short field, and Brady obviously made them pay. Nobody illegally lines up against the Patriots to that magnitude and gets away with it. Nobody.
WORST back door cover
I'm not going to say I put money on this game. I'm not going to say I had the Patriots a −7.5. I'm not going to say it was an absolute lock all week. But if I did put money on the Patriots, I'd be very upset about the Colts scoring that touchdown late in the fourth quarter to lose by only seven points. Just an unfortunate thing to happen for all those Patriots fans who hammered the Patriots this week. Glad I didn't do it. Nope. Never happened. Not worried about my bank account whatsoever.
BEST extra point block
When Jamie Collins posted this video of himself doing flips like a gymnast, I was very impressed. I still am. That is a very large human being doing things that most people his size can't do. Well on Sunday night, Collins was doing some physically crazy things once again. He leaped over the Colts center during an extra point attempt. Timed it and cleared the player, landed, and blocked the kick with his leg. The dude is wild.
BEST way to shut up the opponent
Sure, everybody wanted the Patriots to put up 70 points on the Colts Sunday night. Everybody assumed the Colts would roll over and die. Neither of those things happened, but the Patriots still came out on top and leave Indianapolis with a 5-0 record. The Colts fans can hang onto the fact they weren't blown out. Maybe they'll hang a banner because of it.