Week 15 Patriots Bulletin Colts Crush Sloppy Patriots
Bye Week reported the return of the error-prone game
Apologies for the late submission of the weekly newsletter, there were factors beyond my control… but better late than never.
The Patriots entered the game on a seven-game winning streak, but they left all that intensity, physique and smart play at home. Indy was also coming out of a goodbye and looking like all of these things and more. Turnovers, sloppy play, missed opportunities, bad penalties and terrible special teams play weighed on the team as they fell 20-0 behind.
The Colts have shown they love to play bully ball as well and have a 78-yard drive where they ram the ball into the Patriots’ throat without throwing a pass. The touchdown was considered a pass, but it was nothing more than a pitch… you get the idea. The Colts owned the line of scrimmage. The Patriots made a few adjustments in the second half, but when they absolutely had to make a save, Jonathan Taylor blew through the defense for a decisive 67-yard touchdown. Offensively, the running game was nonexistent.
So here are our position papers this week for the Patriots-Colts game. And now the team is facing the Bills for what will be essentially for the Division. A win gives the Patriots a two-game lead with two to go. A loss to Buffalo gives the Bills the tiebreaker and they will face Atlanta and the Jets in the last two weeks… you get the idea.
Mac Jones had a rookie three-quarterback game, with two bad interceptions on back-to-back possessions. The first took points on the board just before half-time. After a penalty brought the Patriots back to the Colts 13, he attempted to hit Hunter Henry and threw him straight at Darius Leonard at 3.
Jones finished 26-45 for 299 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 INTs with a 74.2 passer rating. But he bounced back at the end of the third quarter and had three goals scored to make it a 20-17 game. It was without any racing games, so it wasn’t that bad.
After the Colts’ first touchdown, Jones responded with a wonderful deep ball that was right on the money to Jakobi Meyers who dropped it. Not only did it cost the Patriots points, but the next game the Colts blocked the punt, and boom, it’s 14-0. Jones later made another great deep ball to N’Keal Harry for 43 yards and his second touchdown pass to Henry under pressure was a very good play.
Running backs: C
Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden had very little room to run on Saturday night as the Colts entered and stuffed the race at the point of attack throughout the game.
Stevenson had just 10 carries for 36 yards and he and Bolden combined were averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. But it was not for lack of effort on their part. Stevenson was even tackled by his own lieutenant Isaiah Wynn on a play behind the line of scrimmage… it was that kind of night for the full backs. Bolden had 3 catches for 41 yards in the passing game.
Wide receivers: C-
It wasn’t a good night for Jakobi Meyers, who released a big, deep ball that would have put them in position to score. It was a big turning point in the game, as the Colts scored in the next snap off from a blocked punt. Meyers didn’t block Darius Leonard on a 3rd and a key short run and then was flagged for holding which nullified a play that would have put them on the one-yard line. But he also brought some keys to move the chains.
Kendrick Bourne had 3 catches for 44 yards, while Nelson Agholor caught 4 catches for 44 before being lost with a head injury (concussion). Harry, as mentioned above, made 2 catches for 52 yards, including that excellent catch of a 43-yard lift from Jones. He too left the match with a head injury when he took a helmet on the back of his head and was forced out of the match.
Tight ends: B-
Hunter Henry had his best game as the Patriot with 6 catches for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns. These brought the Patriots back into the game and at least gave them a chance to equalize or win the game if the defense could have found a save.
Jonnu Smith continues to be the unlucky guy and only had five yards in two touches. He had a nice catch and a run of 14 wiped out by a penalty… what else? It’s been that kind of year for him.
Offensive line: D
The offensive line was battered by the Colts’ defense all night and they struggled to open holes for the running backs. Isaiah Wynn, in particular, has had a very difficult night. He was tourniquet by DeForrest Buckner for a sack, then on the possession that followed he faced the wrong direction and knocked down Stevenson on a run play. He’s also been reported for a false start in more… ugh territory. Michael Onwenu was flagged for a false start which turned a 3rd and 2 into a 3rd and 7. This led Bill Belichick to go for a late-in-game field goal which was the right move. More on that below.
Pass protection for Jones only improved a bit, he was responsible for saving himself more time sliding and moving in the pocket.
Defensive line: D
The defensive line was notched for 226 yards and 5.8 yards per rush on the ground. The Colts’ offensive line, especially on the first down, was pushing the Patriots on roller skates, it seemed.
In the second half, they seemed to get it right, but the defense then gave up the killer 67-yard touchdown. Deatrich Wise got the only sack, but the pass rush was not good overall.
Linebackers also played an important role in running defense. Ja’Whaun Bentley was lost early in this one to an ankle injury and the loss of him and Kyle Dugger being kicked out didn’t help matters. Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty both attempted to stop Taylor on the decisive touchdown, but breathed.
Jamie Collins replaced Bentley and put in an excellent athletic game recovering and deflecting a Carson Wentz pass that was picked up by Devin McCourty. But he dropped an interception that could have been a pick-six.
Secondary: B +
The secondary play was generally good, although the Colts only threw the ball 12 times. The game plan was to slow down the running game and force it into Wentz’s hands. And Wentz showed it was the right one. He made several bad decisions, including the interception of McCourty and those abandoned by Collins and JC Jackson, who had three broken passes.
If there was a problem with the secondary it was in the race medium, where they could have played a lot better.
Special teams: F
The Patriots special teams were adamantly catastrophic on Saturday night. Things started off badly and gradually got worse. Gunner Olszewski had the ball taken out on the opening kick-off, but luckily the ball went out of bounds.
Then, after Jones-Meyers’ missed connection, Jakob Johnson let Matthew Adams come to center with no blocking and he blocked Jake Bailey’s punt which the Colts recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Brandon King later jumped offside on a failed field goal attempt by the Colts, which they converted on the second down.
On a night when the Patriots lost 10 points, STs units gave Indy 10 points with completely avoidable plays. For a team that spends so much time practicing S&T and has so many places on the team, this is inexcusable.
The Patriots coaching staff had plenty of time to prepare for the Colts, but the way they came out playing would suggest they were operating over a short week. All the problems that plagued the team in the 2-4 start resurfaced. Sloppy play, bad penalties before the snap and turnovers all showed their ugly head.
They didn’t look prepared and the Colts sure were. They were flying all over the field and looked a lot faster than the Patriots.
One area we agreed with was Bill Belichick’s decision to kick the basket in the 4th quarter. As he pointed out, the 4th and 7th deep in the red zone are difficult to convert and the way the defense was playing in the second half gave him confidence that they would get the ball back.
But the team are number one in the division and currently hold number one in the AFC. We go to the week off, then to the Colts.
Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts like writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.
Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Carson Wentz Darius Leonard DeForrest Buckner Devin McCourty Dont’a Hightower Frank Reich Indianapolis Colts Jamie Collins Jonathan Taylor Mac Jones N’Keal Harry New England Patriots NFL Patriots