Greetings from beautiful Noblesville! I'll be with you watching this one between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots from the comfort of my couch this week. Make sure to follow our live in-game analysis here and on Twitter @Colts_101.
Inactives for the Colts this week are no surprise: Vontae Davis, Coby Fleener, Mario Harvey, Bradley Sowell, Martin Tevaseu, Tony Hills and somewhat surprisingly, Josh Chapman. That may mean more 4-3 alignments for the Colts defense.
The Patriots will sit G Logan Mankins, TE Aaron Hernandez, G Dan Connolly, and SS Patrick Chung. That means Wes Welker is going to make a go of it, but Mankins and Connolly are big losses on their interior line. Patrick Chung being out also makes a big difference in their secondary.
4:26 The Patriots won the toss and deferred, giving the Colts the ball first. That could backfire on them if the Colts can force a long drive.
4:28 The Colts convert their first third down attempt with Robert Hughes going up the gut. The Vick Ballard takes it into Patriots' territory.
4:31 The Patriots put the Colts first and goal when Kyle Arrington interferes with Donnie Avery. Vick Ballard nearly get it in on first down, but Delone Carter finishes off the drive. Nicely done by the Colts. Adam Vinatieri's extra point caps off the seven play, 80 yard drive to put the Colts up early 7-0.
4:36 Josh Gordy fails in his first nickel assignment, allowing Julian Edelman to pick up the first down on a drag route. Then Brady finds Gronkowski down the seam to get the ball into Colts territory.
4:38 Brady finds Gronkowski one the back shoulder throw, this time one-on-one with Zbikowski. First and goal.
4:39 Gronkowski beat Kavell Conner in single coverage for the touchdown. The extra point ties it 7-7. Looks like our game preview is going as planned for the Pats offense.
4:43 A poor decision by Tom Zbikowski to bring the kickoff out of the end zone. A nice screen to TY Hilton picks up a first down and gets the ball out of their own red zone.
4:46 Vick Ballard running hard early, takes the ball out past the 40.
4:48 Luck converts a third and seven with a nice back shoulder throw to LaVonn Brazill which nets 25. Luck is moving this offense smoothly.
4:50 A draw to Vick Ballard picks up 15 and the Colts are back in the red zone at the Patriots 14. On the next play TY Hilton beats Aquib Talib and makes a nice sliding grab. The Vinatieri extra point makes it 14-7 Colts. That drive went 84 yards. Which offense will blink first?
4:55 Brady finds Welker on a (you guessed it) crossing route to pick up the first down.
4:56 Darius Butler had Julius Edelman in the backfield on a WR screen, but couldn't finish the tackle. Instead, he takes the ball into Colts territory as the quarter comes to a close. Colts lead 14-7.
4:59 A Patriots holding call puts them behind the chains. This is an opportunity for the Colts to break serve.
5:01 Brady beats Josh Gordy on third down again, keeping the drive alive.
5:03 The Colts defense holds this time when Wes Welker can't hold on on third down. Stephen Gostkowski pushes the field goal right and the Colts maintain the touchdown advantage.
5:07 The Colts can't take advantage though, going three and out. Luck sailed a first down pass that disrupted the rhythm of the series.
5:09 The Colts surrender a 68 yard Julian Edelman punt return that ties the game at 14-14.
5:15 Nice initial carry by Donald Brown sets up a second down play action that Luck sails. Aquib Talib picks it off and returns it for a pick six. Just like that, the Patriots lead 21-14. The Colts have now given up two on defensive touchdowns. You can't do that against the number one offense in the NFL
5:45 Coverage interrupted by our family's early Thanksgiving dinner. CBS didn't notify my wife of the shift in game time. While I was eating, the Colts put together a nice drive that resulted in a Vinatieri field goal. The Patriots answered with a similar drive to leave the score at 24-17.
5:47 Donnie Avery makes a courageous third down catch and pays the price for it. Colts still alive with 1:23 left.
5:52 The Colts didn't manage the clock well. Adam Vinatieri's 52 yarder went left as time expired in the first half. The Patriots hold the lead 24-17.
6:06 Antoine Bethea starts the second half off with a pop of Stevan Ridley in the backfield. His teammates collect the leftovers.
6:08 Brady hits Welker on a WR screen for 17 yards and the first down. He caught the Colts in a safety blitz.
6:10 Gronkowski gets the Patriots inside the red zone as Brady finds him again in single coverage with a linebacker.
6:13 Brady finds the one-on-one coverage again, this time finding Julian Edelman on a slant against Cassius Vaughn. Patriots extend their lead to 31-17. The Colts must answer here or risk being taken to the woodshed.
6:18 Luck converts a third down to Dwayne Allen with a defender draped on his back and then threads a needle to Reggie Wayne to get the ball into Patriots territory.
6:21 The drive stalls, however, when Vince Wilfoork tips Luck's third down pass. Luck had Dwayne Allen one-on-one with a CB at the top, but as he still does too often, zeroed in early on where he wanted to go with the ball. McAfee's punt pins the Pats deep. The Colts defense must come up with a stop here, preferably a three and out.
6:26 Not a three and out, but they do force a punt. Zoltan Mesko booms a great punt though that flips the field.
6:30 Rob Ninkovich strips Andrew Luck on third down, giving the Patriots the ball on the Colts 25. Brady goes right for the jugular, finding Rob Gronkowski in single coverage with a safety. 38-17 Patriots.
6:39 A personal foul against New England gives the Colts a first down, but the Pats defenders are playing downhill now.
6:42 Luck keeps pitching though and moves the Colts into New England territory as the third quarter expires. 38-17 Patriots.
6:45 Luck throws a back shoulder throw that doesn't go to Wayne's back shoulder. Alfonzo Dennard takes it the distance and the rout is on. 45-17 Patriots.
6:53 The Colts drive right back into New England territory. Luck then hits TY Hilton for the second time today against Aqib Talib. Adam Vinatieri tacks on the extra point and it's 45-24 Patriots. Where would this game be without allowing three return touchdowns?
7:01 The Patriots makeshift offensive line picks up another Colts' blitz, leaving Gronkowski in single coverage again. Predictably, it's a first down.
7:04 Julian Edelman busts a reverse down inside the Colts 5 yard line and Stevan Ridley punches it in from there. 52-24 Patriots.
7:10 The Colts spirit is broken. They showed little life in going three and out on their next possession. Pat McAfee has to make the tackle to keep Julian Edelman from scoring on his second punt return of the game.
7:13 Predictably, the Patriots aren't letting up, driving quickly into the red zone again.
7:16 Backup RB Shane Vereen goes in nearly untouched. 59-24. Don't be upset, Colts fans. It's what Bill Belichick does. He doesn't want to just win. He wants to steal your soul.
We'll find out next week if the Colts soul remains intact. This one comes as a stark reminder to this young team of just how far they have to go. They'll not get any sympathy from the Buffalo Bills next week, however, as the Bills are trying to make the playoffs themselves.
There will be no time for the Colts to hang their heads or lick their wounds. They'll need to be ready to go next Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
, Indianapolis Colts
, New England Patriots