Colts vs. Patriots: Live Grades and Analysis for New England

Sterling XieCorrespondent IIJanuary 11, 2014

Brady's Pats got the best of Luck's Colts.
Brady's Pats got the best of Luck's Colts.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New England Patriots advanced to their third straight AFC Championship, pulling away late from the Indianapolis Colts.

Check out final grades and analysis below.



Indianapolis - 22

New England - 43

Patriots Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseB-B
Run OffenseB+A
Run DefenseAA
Pass DefenseBB
Special TeamsD-C-
vs. Colts

Game Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: The play action was there for Brady early in the half, with a 53-yard completion to Danny Amendola jumpstarting a key touchdown drive. Brady could surely have done more if needed, but this was essentially a throwback to the early aughts—short high-efficiency passes designed to keep drives alive.

Run Offense: 46 carries, 234 yards, six touchdowns. Not much more needs to be said about New England’s newfound smashmouth offensive identity. The Patriots are clearly a team that will try to control the tone and rhythm of the game, and this unit will have the largest say on how far this team advances in the postseason.

Run Defense: Trailing for much of the half, the Colts never really tried to establish the run after halftime. Give credit to the undermanned Pats front seven for snuffing out the ground game and preventing Brown from becoming a reliable change-up in this contest.

Pass Defense: Andrew Luck made some unbelievable throws, but the Patriots defense hung in despite a few tough blows. Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins, whose playing time has spiked recently, had a breakout game with a game-sealing interception and blanket coverage on Colts tight end Coby Fleener. Not the smoothest game, but this unit came up with enough big plays to change the game’s complexion.

Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski saved the special teams’ bacon with his emergency punting in place of the injured Ryan Allen. Demerits for another holding penalty on the punt return, however—a bit reminiscent of last year’s Divisional round win, when the kick coverage unit had similarly bizarre struggles.

Coaching: The Patriots came ready to play tonight, and stayed even through three seesaw quarters. Unlike earlier this season, when the Pats had lapses of concentration and performance, we are starting to see more consistent 60-minute efforts. This team is peaking, and will not go out easy.

LeGarrette Blount had another huge game.
LeGarrette Blount had another huge game.Al Bello/Getty Images


First-Half Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: It’s been the Julian Edelman show in the first half, as the diminutive slot receiver has four of New England’s seven first-half receptions. Tom Brady’s been pretty conservative, taking short screens and letting his receivers pick up yards after the catch. Look for more play action in the second half, as the Pats have soundly established the run game.

Run Offense: A trio of short LeGarrette Blount touchdowns have underlined a firm commitment to the ground. The Patriots are not overwhelming Indianapolis, with just a 3.2 yards per carry average. However, they have created lots of third-and-short situations, allowing Brady to keep the chains moving. It will be interesting to see if they can wear down Indy’s front by the end of the game.

Run Defense: The Colts have tried to exploit New England’s sub defense with a bunch of shotgun draws, but the Pats have held strong. Indy is averaging a meager 2.9 yards per carry, with no run going longer than seven runs. Give credit to the linebacker core of Dont’a Hightower, Dane Fletcher and Jamie Collins for shooting gaps and sound tackling.

Pass Defense: Andrew Luck has hit a couple big downfield bombs, but give credit to this unit for coming up with two critical interceptions. Props to Aqib Talib for limiting T.Y. Hilton to just two catches in the half. So long as this unit keeps the action in front of them, it will be tough for Luck to shred them apart.

Special Teams: Danny Aiken’s high snap and Ryan Allen’s disastrous lateral attempt might have been the Pats’ worst special teams play of the year, and they were fortunate to escape with a safety. A couple holding calls on punt returns have also set drives back. Not a good half for this unit.

Coaching: The Patriots game plan has worked fairly well, as the run game is controlling the clock and the defense is turning the Colts offense one-dimensional. A couple disasters are keeping the score close, but sound second-half execution should leave the Pats in good shape.