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3 things we learned about the Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS — A loud and emotional Lucas Oil Stadium crowd was ready to rattle Tom Brady, hoping to see him fail Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.

There would be no distracting Brady in the Deflategate rematch, still a very sore subject in the Hoosier State.

Accused of playing a role in New England using partially deflated footballs during an AFC title game victory over Indianapolis in January, Brady answered his critics with three touchdown passes — two during the second half — while leading the Patriots to a 34-27 triumph Sunday night.

Avoiding Deflategate talk, Brady focused on the latest victory, not the one in January that prompted the most controversy of his storied career.

“(The Colts defense) played pretty good,” Brady said. “I thought they competed really hard. Our execution was off at times, so it was a good win. They definitely did some things to challenge us. Obviously, this was a good win on the road.”

The Colts (3-3) set up two New England touchdowns with special teams mistakes — a failed onside kick in the first half and a failed fake punt from their own 37-yard line with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Brady, who completed 23 of 37 passes for 312 yards and an interception, directed a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to begin the third quarter, capping it with a 25-yard scoring pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots (5-0) grabbed a 27-21 lead on the play.

Later in the quarter, the Colts lined up in an unusual punt formation, with nine players standing to the far right side on a fourth-and-2 situation. The ball was snapped to special teams player Colt Anderson, who was tackled for a 1-yard loss, giving the ball to Brady and the prolific New England offense at the Indianapolis 35.

Six plays later, Brady threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to running back LeGarrette Blount (16 carries, 95 yards) with 12:48 left in the fourth quarter.

What we learned about the Colts:

1. After missing two consecutive games with a shoulder injury, quarterback Andrew Luck looked relatively sharp against an excellent New England defense, completing 30 of 50 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed four times for 35 yards, 8.8 yards a carry. Moving forward with a 3-3 record, the Colts are going to need Luck at 100 percent the rest of the way.

2. Colts coach Chuck Pagano and his staff might want to rethink their special teams risks. A failed onside kick and a failed fake punt gave quarterback Tom Brady and the powerful Patriots two short-field situations — one in each half — and New England capitalized with a touchdown each time. The fake punt play was a disaster with a strange formation. It may have cost the Colts the game.

3. While Indianapolis almost certainly will win the weak AFC South, there is concern that the Colts aren’t playing as well in Lucas Oil Stadium as they usually do. They are 1-2 at home, also losing to the New York Jets, and they are a missed Jacksonville Jaguars field goal in overtime from being 0-3 at home. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints come to Indy on Oct. 25, and former Colts star Peyton Manning and the currently unbeaten Denver Broncos visit Lucas Oil Stadium on Nov. 8. Losses in those two would mean the Colts would be no better than 4-4 at home this season.

Etc.

–QB Andrew Luck, in his first start since sustaining a shoulder injury in a Sept. 27 victory at Tennessee, completed 30 of 50 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. It was the 20th 300-yard game of Luck’s career.

–WR T.Y. Hilton, who had six catches for 74 yards against the Patriots, remains the Colts’ season leader with 33 receptions for 456 yards and one touchdown.

–RB Frank Gore had 13 carries for 78 yards against New England. He leads the Colts with 89 carries for 403 yards.


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