The New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts came into this game with the same record, but Tom Brady and Bill Belichick proved that there are still miles between these two teams, as New England routed Indianapolis 59-24.
Andrew Luck has been extremely impressive in his rookie year, but the Patriots were able keep him guessing throughout this game. On the other side of the ball, the Colts defense had no answers for the New England offense.
Indianapolis made it appear as if this would be a close game during the first quarter, as the opening period ended with a 14-7 score line in Indy's favor. But after that, the fans in Foxborough, Mass. were treated to fantastic performances by the New England offense, defense and special teams.
Julian Edelman's 68-yard punt return for a touchdown was followed by Aqib Talib's 59-yard interception return for a score, and Brady was handed the lead without having to do much. In the second half, the star quarterback did his part and threw two of his three touchdown passes to open up a 21-point advantage.
At the start of the final period of play, Luck threw his second pick of the day to Alfonzo Dennard, and, again, it was returned for six points. At this point, the rout was officially on.
Luck completed 27 of 50 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
For the Patriots, Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were the star performers. Brady connected on 24 of 35 passes for 331 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He hit Gronkowski seven times for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots maintain their comfortable lead in the AFC East with this victory and improve to 7-3, while the Colts are still in excellent position to earn a wild-card spot at 6-4.
ESPN's Trey Wingo pointed out how Brady and Gronkowski make throwing touchdown passes in the NFL seem as easy as menial everyday tasks. He also gives a statistic that shows how productive these two have been together.
Gronk from Brady...lather rinse repeat.— trey wingo (@wingoz) November 18, 2012
with two TD catches today.. Rob Gronkowski now the first TE in NFL history with at least 10 TD grabs in his first three seasons.— trey wingo (@wingoz) November 18, 2012
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport notes that, given the circumstances, this is not a loss Luck should dwell on.
Andrew Luck has had an impressive season. Great job as a rookie. Not ready to go head-to-head with Brady in a shootout. No shame in that.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 18, 2012
Turnovers hurt the Colts badly in this game, and the Patriots' Twitter noted that linebacker Rob Ninkovich has made a habit out of forcing fumbles this season.
That was Ninkovich's 5th forced fumble of the season - tying him w/ Vrabel's franchise record for a single season (set in '07)— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 18, 2012
Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz attended the game and shared his internal debate over whether or not to leave the game early.
Colts score. Staying in my seat for now, heh.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) November 18, 2012
Actually, looks like a lot of Pats are in agreement with me, not yet getting out of here unless Pats score on this drive.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) November 18, 2012
Outta here.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) November 19, 2012
The Patriots' skill-position players were incredibly impressive, but The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy rightly gave some credit to the guys who rarely receive attention.
Most underrated Pats weapon is pass protection. Brady not touched today.— Dan Shaughnessy (@Dan_Shaughnessy) November 18, 2012
Brady certainly looked like one of the NFL's all-time greats in this game, and his latest performance put him in impressive company, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info.
Tom Brady now has 51 300-yard passing games, tying Dan Fouts for the 6th-most in NFL history. #Patriots— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 19, 2012