Colts vs. Patriots: Instant Grades, Analysis for Indianapolis
Colts- 24, Patriots- 59
The Colts' defense couldn't stop the Patriots, and the special teams didn't help with a couple of big punt returns. The offense couldn't handle the pressure to keep up with Tom Brady, leading to four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for a touchdown.
Keep this slideshow open as it will be updated with final player grades soon.
Andrew Luck: C
Luck's day was pretty typical for a rookie quarterback. Luck had a few fantastic throws, third down conversions, and another long pass while being tackled in the backfield. However, Luck also looked like a rookie throughout the game, forcing throws and generally trying to do too much to keep up with the Patriots.
Luck showed once again his ability to throw under pressure, into tight windows, and his ever improving deep ball. As he grows and learns to take the easy throw, and as Arians starts to give him that option, he will be extremely good on a weekly basis. But for now, as a rookie, he's going to have these moments.
Vick Ballard: A-
Ballard had another good game as he continues to improve. Ballard's vision and ability to make people miss gets better every game, and this one was no exception. The key moment for me was Ballard making Vince Wilfork miss in the hole in the first half. Those are the kind of plays that starting running backs make. I'm still not a fan of Ballard's outside running, but between the tackles he's impressing me more each week.
Donald Brown: B+
Brown only got four carries this week, but did some nice things and finished with 17 yards, including one great play where he avoided defenders in the backfield and got a positive gain.
Delone Carter: A
Carter's main role is a short yardage back for the Colts. He had one shot at that this week, an attempt from the Patriots' one-yard line in the first half. Carter made a great move to get through the hole and get the touchdown, taking advantage of his one chance.
Reggie Wayne: B
Wayne had another good day, with seven catches and 72 yard, but wasn't the game changer we've come to expect this season. He was targeted 18 times, but only managed seven completions, and at least one of those was a drop.
T.Y. Hilton: A
Hilton was the big threat on this night, the only receiver to top 100 yards for the Colts. He finished with six catches, along with a couple of drawn pass interference penalties, and was on the receiving end of both of Luck's touchdown passes. Hilton's speed was too much for the Pats secondary, and he's looking better each week as he strings good games together.
Donnie Avery: B
Avery can be inconsistent, but is still one of just two veteran receivers on the roster. He pulled in three catches for 34 yards in the first half, and the offense looked remarkably worse without him in the second half.
LaVon Brazill: C
Brazill flashed some talent with a couple of catches, both for over 20 yards, but still has the rookie blues. He had a crucial drop in the second that limited the Colts to a field goal, and then failed to get much separation in the second half as the third receiver.
Dwayne Allen: B-
Allen continues to show his versatility, whether it be by blocking three men single handedly on Delone Carter's touchdown run or catching six passes for 69 yards. But, Allen also had a few rookie mistakes, namely a couple bad drops, including one in the red zone. Allen also got most of his targets in the second half with the Colts' down big, he needs to get involved early.
The Colts could really use Coby Fleener right now, as his injury has limited their offensive versatility. With Avery now concussed, Fleener's downfield speed could be very useful.
Anthony Castonzo: B
Castonzo was once again, pretty good. He did give up a sack to Rob Ninkovich, and another quarterback hit to be sure, but was one of the better run blockers and was in one-on-one matchups for a lot of the night.
Joe Reitz: C+
Reitz' run blocking was impressive early on, but it tailed as the game went on, as the Patriots started to load up on the left side.
Samson Satele: B
For once, I didn't feel like the Colts' center was the problem on the offensive line. Satele didn't dominate, but he wasn't getting pushed around like he has for a lot of the season.
Mike McGlynn: D+
McGlynn usually is just about average, but he seemed like the weak link tonight, allowing pressure and getting pushed back in the run game. The pocket seemed to collapse on that inside right too often tonight.
Winston Justice: B+
I didn't notice him in pass protection, which is a good sign, but Justice still isn't fun for the Colts' to run behind.
Cory Redding: C+
Redding had a good tackle for a loss on the game, and finished with three tackles, but Redding once again failed to provide any pass rush. Unfortunately, with Drake Nevis' injury, the Colts' have little depth behind him, and hope his injury isn't serious.
Fili Moala: B
Moala was very good early on, getting penetration on running and passing plays. He finished the game with just two tackles, but his penetration got a hurry on Tom Brady and helped blow up several running plays that don't show up in stats.
Antonio Johnson: B-
Once again, he didn't play a ton, but Johnson helped anchor a line that limited Steven Ridley to 2.2 yards per carry, and finished with three tackles.
Ricardo Matthews: C-
The backup defensive end is going to get a lot of snaps with Nevis out, but I find him pushed a few yards back from the line of scrimmage far too often. We can only pray that Redding's injury isn't serious.
Dwight Freeney/Robert Mathis: B-
Freeney was able to get get into Tom Brady's face a few times on the night, finishing with one of just two of the Colts' QB hits, and one of the Colts' tackles for a loss. Mathis had a similar story, getting two tackles on the night and the second quarterback hit. Nevertheless, the Colts have to get more from these two, or the porous secondary will be victims every week.
Kavell Conner: C-
Conner was out of his element tonight, as the Colts played a team with passing matchups specifically designed to take advantage of linebackers in coverage. Conner played well against the run, but when asked to guard Gronkowski... touchdown Patriots.
Jerrell Freeman: C+
Freeman gathered a lot of tackles on the night, finishing with 12 to lead the team, but he struggled in coverage, specifically against (who else?) Gronkowski. Freeman did have good coverage on Welker early in the game, which led to a few stops, but overall got abused by Gronkowski.
Pat Angerer: B-
Angerer did a good job in coverage in spare minutes, finishing with three tackles and a wicked hit to get a stop on third down. He'll likely be phased more into the defense as time goes on, as he's battled his foot injury over the last few weeks.
Antoine Bethea: B
Bethea was the clean up guy tonight, with eight tackles. He also was the only one able to stay with Gronkowski, although Gronk did get a big first down catch on him because of his size. Bethea overall though had a decent game, and is currently the only thing that is holding the secondary even remotely together.
Tom Zbikowski: D
"Zibby" was not good in coverage at all tonight, on the night that the Colts needed him most. He looks lost out there, takes poor angles, and often doesn't tackle well, a poor recipe for your starting strong safety.
Cassius Vaughn: D-
Vaughn continues to be the weakest (in a chain of weak links) link in the secondary, picking up penalties, having poor coverage, you name it. The Colts are praying that Vontae Davis can come back as soon as possible.
Darrius Butler: D-
Butler had tighter coverage than Vaughn on the night, but is one of the poorest tacklers I've seen at the position for the Colts in a long time. Plus, even with the tighter coverage, Butler got torched more often than not. Sure, he had a good game against Blaine Gabber last week, but he's not a starting cornerback.
Pat McAfee: C-
McAfee had one of his poorest games of the season, with a poor punt leading to a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown, and another kick out kicking his coverage leading to a 49-yard return. McAfee did pin his third punt on the NE two-yard line, but overall not his best day.
Adam Vinatieri: B
Vinatieri was 1-2 on the day, hitting his 47-yard attempt, but missing a 58-yarder to the left.
T.Y. Hilton: D
Hilton isn't providing much from a return standpoint (just 14.6 yards on kickoffs tonight) and is loose with the ball, losing the ball twice tonight. Fortunately for him, the Colts held on to both. Nevertheless, he needs to get a tighter grip, and quick.
Bruce Arians: D
A really poor outing for Arians on all accounts. First, you can't punt the ball on 4th and 4 in enemy territory when you're down 14 points late in the third quarter. That was the ball game right there. Second, you can't botch the end of the first half as poorly as Arians did with time management. Third, you can't keep your starters in in the fourth quarter if you're not going to go all out to try and win. The Colts played conservatively, but kept their starters out, and paid for it with an injury to Cory Redding.
And finally, the Colts got massively outplayed in the second half. It wasn't even close. This is a recurring theme for Arians. Outside of the Green Bay game, the Colts' third quarters have been a disaster. The Colts generally start out the game really well on offense, and then the defense adjusts and the Colts get stalled.
Greg Manusky: C-
Manusky gets points off for letting the Pats dominate the second half, and for using linebackers to single cover Rob Gronkowski, but outside of that Manusky did a good job by getting even a couple stops against the Pats (two field goals and one punt). The Colts' roster is nowhere near equipped to handle an offense of the Patriots' caliber.