The Indianapolis Colts are one of the surprises of the 2012 season and may well make the playoffs, but they showed they are long-way from being a playoff-quality team.
The New England Patriots destroyed Indianapolis in all three phases of the game, annihilating the visiting Colts 59-24.
Indianapolis made a game of it early, but a pair of devastating returns for touchdowns quickly extinguished any hope for an upset.
With the Colts leading 14-7 early in the second quarter, Julian Edelman ran a Pat McAfee punt back 68 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Moments later, Aquib Talib snagged a poorly thrown ball by Andrew Luck and took it back 59 yards for a lead that the Patriots would never relinquish.
Luck finished with 334 yards and two scores, but threw three costly interceptions, two of which were run back by the Patriots for scores.
As badly as the Indianapolis offense and special teams struggled, the defense was equally hideous. They allowed 38 points of their own on just eight meaningful offensive possessions for the Patriots.
Tom Brady punished the porous Colts to the tune of 331 yards, three touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 127.2. Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
The Indianapolis pass rush got no pressure on Brady and could not get off the field on third down, giving up eight conversions in just 12 attempts.
It was a game to forget for the entire squad, marred by fumbles, missed tackles, dropped passes and poor throws. Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton did manage a 100-yard, two-touchdown receiving game despite demonstrating poor ball security on special teams.
The Colts have become the talk of the NFL thanks to a string of unlikely victories, but couldn't keep the Patriots within miracle range. New England opened up the second half with an offensive touchdown and a pick-six to increase their lead to 21 points.
The rout was on.
For Luck and the Colts, this was never a game they were likely to win, and they won't have much opportunity to dwell on it.
The Buffalo Bills are up in Week 12, and the Colts need a win to stay on top of a tightening wild-card race. Indy likely only needs three wins to make the playoffs, and a home game against a suspect Bills squad provides one of the best remaining opportunities they'll have to pick up a victory.
The Colts are young team, still growing and learning.
New England taught them that they still have a long way to go.