By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Final: Patriots 34, Colts 27:
It wasn't very pretty but the Patriots are 5-0 after a 34-27 win in Indianapolis.
Tom Brady finished the night 23-of-37 for 311 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He shook hands with D'Qwell Jackson after the game, whose interception in the AFC title game last January kicked off DeflateGate, and then declined an interview with NBC.
Danny Amendola had the big game for New England receivers, hauling in seven catches on nine targets for 105 yards. Rob Gronkowski was held to just three catches, but they went for 50 yards and a touchdown.
LeGarrette Blount had 95 rushing yards and a touchdown, adding a receiving touchdown as well.
The Colts gave New England everything they had, but the Patriots are just the better team. We're still trying to figure out what Chuck Pagano was thinking on that fake punt, which will likely go down as one of the worst play calls in NFL history. Should be interesting to hear what he has to say about that one.
This was far from perfect for the Patriots, as the Colts had 408 yards of offense, but it goes into the books as another win to start the 2015 season.
We'll be breaking this one down all night, so stick with CBSBoston.com for more coverage, and tune in to postgame shows on both 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV.
4th Quarter, 1:18: Indy's high onside attempt was snagged out of the air by Rob Gronkowski. Game over.
4th Quarter, 1:19 -- Patriots 34, Colts 27: This one isn't over just yet. Andrew Luck hit Griff Whalen for an 18-yard score.
But the more impressive feat was Jamie Collins leaping over the Colts' line and blocking Adam Vinatieri's extra point. Collins timed everything perfectly, and looked like he was jumping a hurdle to get to the kick.
This is coming down to an onside kick.
4th Quarter, 2:00: Andrew Luck scrambled for another Colts first down as we hit the 2-minute warning.
The Colts are 6-for-15 on third down conversions tonight.
4th Quarter, 3:03: The Patriots couldn't bleed out the rest of the clock, and were forced to punt it away again. This one could be costly, as special teams captain Matthew Slater needed assistance off the field.
Slater ran into Patrick Chung on the Indy return, and had to be helped to the sidelines. This would be a big loss to New England's special teams.
4th Quarter, 3:31: The Colts went for it on 4th and 10, and Luck was a little too high for TY Hilton over the middle. The Patriots take over at the Indy 28.
Now just give it to Blount and let the time tick away.
4th Quarter, 3:47: The Patriots had the Colts in another 3rd and 10, but Luck ripped off 25 yards on a scramble to keep the drive alive.
4th Quarter, 5:05: Tom Brady was just crushed by Dwight Lowery, who had a clear path to the quarterback on a 3rd and 7.
That set up another punt by Ryan Allen, and the Colts now have the ball at their own 16 yardline.
4th Quarter, 6:45: After Luck converted on a third down with a nice pass to Andre Johnson, Chandler Jones made sure he didn't have the opportunity when another third down came up.
Jones burst through the line and hit Luck, giving him 2.5 sacks on the evening.
Another touchdown would be nice, but it's time for the Patriots to just give the ball to Blount and let him run this one out.
4th Quarter, 9:44: This game just got even stranger. A Tom Brady keeper didn't get the Patriots the yard they needed, forcing another Ryan Allen punt.
It's an unofficial count, but Brady was a perfect 1,457-for-1,457 on that play before getting stuffed.
Also, Jabaal Sheard has been downgraded to "out" for the rest of this one.
4th Quarter, 11:50: The wheels are falling off for the Colts.
A 16-yard catch by Hilton was negated by a holding call on Anthony Castonzo, and a few plays later the Colts were punting again. They actually punted this time, too.
Dare we say the Colts look a little "deflated" following that awful 4th down call?
4th Quarter, 12:48 -- Patriots 34, Colts 21: That blunder by Indy just gave the Patriots an easy touchdown drive.
After a big third down conversion by Dion Lewis, Brady hit Blount for an 11-yard touchdown to put New England on top by two scores.
The Patriots needed just six plays and 3:24 to cover 35 yards. Thanks again, Chuck.
3rd Quarter, 1:12: What the heck was Chuck Pagano just thinking?!?!?!?!
Instead of a punt on 4th down, the Colts tried a direct snap to Colt Anderson, but the Patriots were right there to stop him. Literally staring into his face, begging for him to snap the ball.
Replays show Pagano asking his players why they snapped it as they made their way to the sideline. "Why even try to fool around with that?" is a better question. We'll take it in New England though, so thanks Chuck!
3rd Quarter, 3:56: Nothing doing for the Patriots' offense, as they go three and out and have to punt for the second time tonight.
After a pair of incomplete passes, Brady hit Amendola on a screen on third down, but the play only resulted in seven yards.
Ryan Allen delivered a 56-yard punt, and an illegal block in the back pushed Indy back another 10 yards to their own 17.
3rd Quarter, 5:11: The New England pass rush has been non-existent for most of the night, but came alive on the last drive.
With the Colts facing a 3 and 9, the Patriots sent the house at Luck. He was met by Dominique Easley and Chandler Jones for an 11-yard loss, forcing another Indy punt.
Logan Ryan lost TY Hilton on a 20-yard reception early in the drive, but made a nice play to knock a ball away from Andre Johnson on the second down before Luck was sacked.
It should be noted that the pass rush is missing Jabaal Sheard, who is questionable to return with an ankle injury.
3rd Quarter, 8:47: The Patriots just punted for the first time tonight.
After moving the chains with a 15-yard connection between Brady and Gronk, the Patriots came up empty on their next three plays. Brady went looking for Chandler on third down, but his pass was knocked away by Greg Toler. Jones wanted a flag on the play, but the referees didn't give in to that request.
The Colts take over at their own 24 after a 32-yard boot by Ryan Allen.
3rd Quarter, 10:39: Solid defensive stance by the Patriots' D, forcing a 3-and-out on Indy's first possession of the half. After two incomplete passes from Luck, he hit Moncrief for nine yards. Malcolm Butler made a nice open field tackle for the Patriots, tracking down the Colts' receiver and bringing him down before he could move the chains.
3rd Quarter, 10:56 -- Patriots 27, Colts 21: You knew Rob Gronkowski was going to break out sooner or later. It's just incredible that teams still find themselves loosing the big tight end in coverage.
Brady hit Gronk twice on their first drive of the second half, his first two catches of the game. His first grab got New England 10 yards on a 3rd and 6, while his second resulted in a 25-yard touchdown. Gronk was wide open over the middle of the field, and only had to slip one tackler en route to pay dirt.
He's a giant among boys, but teams still have trouble finding him on the field. How is that even possible?
That was a 4:04 drive for the Patriots, covering 80 yards on seven plays. Brady was a perfect 5-of-5 for 76 yards and the touchdown.
Halftime -- Colts 21, Patriots 20: Well this one hasn't followed the script out of New England just yet. The Colts are hanging tough, and aren't going down without a fight.
We've seen this from Indianapolis before, and the results in the second half have been nowhere near what the Colts have brought in the first half. In their last four games, New England has outscored Indy 113-27 in the final 30 minutes.
A couple of penalties really shaped the end of the first half. First the Colts were flagged for pass interference, with Colts corner Greg Toler giving Keshawn Martin a shove in the end zone. On the very next play, Scott Chandler was called for the same thing on a ball he came down with over Toler. So instead of a touchdown, the Patriots settled for a 35-yarder from Gostkowski to pull within one point.
There have been 10 penalties in this one so far between the two teams.
Tom Brady finished the half 14-of -23 for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Danny Amendola leads all New England receivers with five grabs for 87 yards, while Edelman has five receptions (on nine targets) for 48 yards. Rob Gronkowski has been held without a catch so far in this one.
The ground attack has been solid for both sides, as LeGarrette Blount and Frank Gore both have 53 rushing yards. Blount got his on six carries while Gore got his on eight.
We're in for an exciting second half.
2nd Quarter, 0:17: Penalties are proving to be costly for the Patriots, as Sebastian Vollmer was flagged for illegal hands to the face, negating a 19-yard pickup by Edelman.
But on the very next play, Brady hit Amendola for 19 yards to get the Patriots to the Indy 22. The Pats just used their final timeout of the half.
2nd Quarter, 1:15: Both teams are being aggressive in this one, as Bill Belichick just called a 4th and 1 run for Julian Edelman. It looked like Edelman was going to be stuffed in the back field, but he made a great spin move to get the extra yard and a half he needed for the first down.
2nd Quarter, 2:38 -- Colts 21, Patriots 17: The Colts are not just rolling over in this one.
After Devin McCourty was flagged for pass interference on a deep pass to Dorsett down the sidelines, the Colts were set up with a 1st and goal. McCourty tried to make amends for that (a somewhat questionable call on an un-catchable ball) by saving a touchdown on 2nd and goal, wrapping up Allen before he could turn a 9-yard pass from Luck into a score, but the Colts found the end zone on the very next play. Luck bought some time and found Hilton from three-yards out to put Indy ahead 21-17. It's Hilton's first score of the season.
The 12-play, 80-yard drive ate up another 6:55 and the Colts have now had the ball for 17:56 while the Patriots just 9:26.
2nd Quarter, 9:33 -- Patriots 17, Colts 14: That Colts' lead lasted less than two minutes.
After a big reception by Dion Lewis, picking up 11 yards on a 2nd-and-14 before a 15-yard facemask moved the chains, LeGarrette Blount took care of the rest with his legs. The big back bumbled for a 38-yard touchdown run to put the Patriots back on top. He outran four Colts defenders and wasn't touched until he was in the end zone. It's his eighth rushing touchdown in the last three games against the Colts.
2nd Quarter, 11:27: After review, it will remain New England ball.
2nd Quarter, 11:27: The Colts aren't playing around, as Chuck Pagano just called for an onside kick. The Patriots weren't ready for it, but Tavon Wilson came up with the football after Josh Kline couldn't secure it.
The officials originally announced that the Colts had the ball, but changed that. Pagano has challenged that call.
The Indy coach must be feeling the heat, pulling out all the stops in this one.
2nd Quarter, 11:30: Colts 14, Patriots 10: Well that escalated quickly.
Brady fired a bullet at Edelman along the sidelines, and after an Edelman juggle the ball fell into Mike Adams' hands. Adams casually jogged 14 yards into the end zone to give the Colts a 14-10 lead. Edelman hasn't look comfortable with that finger.
That was Brady's first interception of the season.
2nd Quarter, 11:40: The Pats are giving up some big plays on defense, but they got some form of a pass-rush on the last drive and forced an Indy punt.
Luck went scrambling on a 3rd and 5, but was taken down by Dominique Easley before he could set into his throw. That forced an Indy punt, with Danny Amendola calling for a fair catch at the New England 12.
The Colts did have a 20-yard connection from Luck to Moncrief, but it didn't mean much in the end.
We just had a delay in the game because one of the refs was dehydrated.
2nd Quarter, 13:48 -- Patriots 10, Colts 7: It's not what the Patriots would have liked, but they take a 10-7 lead off a 40-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
KeShawn Martin found himself wide open on the drive and made a nice comeback to haul in a 39-yard pass from Brady, setting the Pats up at the Indy 27. Martin has now caught all six passes that have come his way in a Patriots uniform.
But the offense couldn't make much more of the drive, as Brady scrambled and overthrew Danny Amendola on a 3rd and five.
And this should come as no surprise at all:
End 1st Quarter -- Patriots 7, Colts 7: The first 15 minutes are in the books, with everything knotted up at 7-7.
The Patriots will take over at their own 34 when the second quarter gets underway. Brady and Co. just moved the chains thanks to a big third-down reception by Edelman. Guess the crazy pinky isn't bothering him too much, as he's up to four receptions for 43 yards.
1st Quarter, 1:41: Marcus Cannon is limping off the field with a right big toe injury, with Sebastian Vollmer sliding over to the left tackle position.
That leaves Cam Fleming over on the right side. Cannon is questionable to return.
1st Quarter, 1:41: Edelman's pinky looks fine, given he just had a nice return that was ultimately negated by a push by Devin McCourty on Indy's punt. But an Indy punt means the Patriots defense forced a three-and-out, so other than the penalty it's good news all around.
1st Quarter, 2:50 -- Patriots 7, Colts 7: Just like that, the Patriots have evened the score. Brady stepped up in the pocket and hit Edelman for a 12-yard score, Minitron's fourth touchdown catch of the season.
It was a 10-play drive by the Patriots that covered 80 yards in 4:26. Danny Amendola led the way with three catches for 33 yards, while Edelman had a pair of catches for 22 yards. Brady went 6-for-8 on the drive for 69 yards.
Edelman took a hard shot heading into the end zone, so we'll see if there are any lingering effects from that one. His right pinky looks... ready for Halloween.
1st Quarter, 2:56: The Patriots just used their first time out, and when they retake the field will have face 2nd and 10 at the Indianapolis 12.
The Pats are driving thanks to some big catches from Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Scott Chandler. They've featured a number of different two-tight end looks so far.
1st Quarter, 6:55: The Patriots opened with Marcus Cannon at left tackle, with Michael Williams in as an extra tight end.
1st Quarter, 7:16 -- Colts 7, Patriots 0: The Colts have to be aggressive if they want any shot in this one, and that's just how the played on their first drive.
Luck drove the Colts 94 yards in 7:44, capping things off with a five-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief on 4th and 1. Luck put it just over the reach of Malcolm Butler in the end zone, giving Indy their first opening drive touchdown in 21 games.
The Patriots are missing Dont'a Hightower in the middle of the field, as Frank Gore ran for 27 yards on a pair of carries, including a 23-yard run on 2nd and 4.
Indy's best defense is keeping Tom Brady off the field. They just ate up half of the first quarter on their first drive, so mission accomplished so far.
Pregame -- 8:25 p.m.: We're only a few minutes away from this one kicking off.
Matthew Slater won the coin toss for the Patriots, calling heads. As expected, the Patriots deferred to the second half.
Pregame -- 8:15 p.m.: No surprise on the NBC Pregame.
Rodney Harrison picked the Patriots to win tonight. Tony Dungy went with the Colts.
Never change, Dungy. Never change.
Pregame -- 7:48 p.m.: Bill Belichick wouldn't give much away in regards to the offensive line he'll go with in his pregame interview with Scott Zolak on 98.5 The Sports Hub, but said everyone who's dressed will be ready to go.
It sounds like Cannon and Vollmer will both see some time at left tackle, with Cam Fleming (fresh off the practice squad) ready to take some snaps at right tackle.
"We'll see how it goes. Both guys are ready to play over there and Cam is ready to play at right tackle too," said Belichick, remaining coy on the subject.
Here's what New England's lineup on the O-Line looked like in warmups: Marcus Cannon-Shaq Mason-David Andrews-Josh Kline- Sebastian Vollmer.
Belichick also said he hopes to have Dont'a Hightower back next weekend against the Jets.
Pregame -- 7:40 p.m.: Tom Brady has taken the field. Colts fans obviously sent boos his way, while the Patriots fans in attendance tried to drown those out with their cheers.
Pregame -- 7:07 p.m.: The roof will be closed at Lucas Oil Stadium, but there's a good chance it might be blown off before the end of this one.
We'll just have to see if it's the New England offense that does the trick or happy Colts fans. We'll bank on the Pats' offense, since there are several reports out of Indianapolis that the place is over-run with New England fans.
We're just a 90 minutes away from the game everyone had circled on their calendars as we wadded through months of PSI talk and court documents as the result of the DeflateGate controversy. Tonight, the Patriots and Tom Brady can take out months of frustration on the franchise that started it all. The Pats said throughout the week this was just another game, which should be no surprise given it's the Patriots. But there's little doubt there's some extra motivation for them heading into this one, one that has some added meaning on this "Scorched Earth" tour the team has been on to start the season.
Don't let those ridiculous numbers (you know, the 73 percent completion percentage, 1,387 passing yards and 11 touchdowns) fool you. Tom Brady is a human, after all.
As for on the field, the Patriots have several question marks on both sides of the ball. On offense they're without the services of Nate Solder for the rest of the season, making it likely that Marcus Cannon will take over at left tackle. Having Cannon responsible for Brady's blindside, even against a Colts defense that doesn't get much pressure on the quarterback, is a cringe-worthy thought for Patriots fans. It doesn't help that Ryan Wendell is inactive once again.
Here's the full list of New England's inactives:
One name not on that list is running back Dion Lewis, who was listed as questionable for tonight's game on Friday's practice report. He is active and ready to go for this one, so we'll see if Chuck Pagano remembers Lewis' name when this one is over.
On defense, linebacker Dont'a Hightower is out as he deals with a rib injury he suffered last week in Dallas. That will make for a busy night for Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo and Jonathan Freeney. Newcomer Jonathan Bostic is also active for the first time since he was acquired by New England from Chicago on September 29, and could see some action this evening.
The biggest question on the defense is one we've been asking all season: Who lines up across from Malcolm Butler? Tarell Brown's season came to an end yesterday when he was placed on IR, leaving the Patriots extremely thin on the depth chart. After Butler, Bill Belichick's options are third-year corner Logan Ryan, undrafted rookie Justin Coleman or the recently claimed Rashaan Melvin, who the team acquired on Wednesday.
That group will have to go against quarterback Andrew Luck, who is active after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury.
Stick with CBSBoston.com for all the updates during and after tonight's big game, and you can hear the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub (you can also tune in online if you're in New England). The Hub will have three full hours of postgame coverage following the game, and you can catch Patriots 5th Quarter on myTV38 as soon as the game clock hits zero.
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