"That game was a little stupid."
I'll admit that I texted that to my Patriots-fan Mom after the end of the Patriots 31-24 win over the Colts on Sunday afternoon. It was in response to her "WTF????" which I understood and can translate to "This game has been really boring and the least the Patriots could have done was blown the Colts out and padded their stats rather than letting Pierre Garcon finish with 150 yards." I feel you Mom, I feel you.
The score makes it seem like it was ever a one score game, which it was not. The Colts were hopeless and hapless as ever, losing 31-10 until the final 2:18 when Dan Orlovsky threw for two garbage time touchdowns. Unfortunately, Indianapolis had lost the game long before then, when the Pats went up 31-3 with Rob Gronkowski's third touchdown of the day.
In fact, Brady to Gronk may have been the only exciting thing about this normally dynamic and emotional rivalry, as Gronkowski set the records for touchdowns in a season by a tightend. He now has fourteen (thirteen passing) to surpass previous record holders Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates.
Orlovsky's incredibly solid performance is worth mentioning as well. The former UConn standout and fifth round draft pick put Curtis Painter to shame and most likely earned himself the starting spot for the rest of their abysmal season. Orlovsky had a really impressive first start, going 30/37 for 353 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Granted, the touchdowns were in garbage time; but the fact that he completed 81% of his passes is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it only served to continue to expose the New England secondary; kind of?
I say that with hesitancy because the Patriots defense wasn't challenged much this week, and therefore I'm not sure they really showed up the way they have done more recently in the Meadowlands and in Philadelphia. Brady and Belichick certainly put on their best faces this week, proclaiming this to be an important game and stating they would not underestimate a team that has been so competitive against them in the past. In reality, not even the most dedicated of teams and coaches can put up the same type of competitive effort against an 0-11 team as they can against a divisional rival. It's just not the way it works.
Patriots Top Performers
Brady finished the game 29/38 for 293 yards and two touchdowns, extending his games without an interception streak to four. Wes Welker led the team in receiving with 11 catches for 114 yards, and Chad Ochocinco even made an appearance today; one catch for 12 yards. Rookie Stevan Ridley stepped in a fair amount in the second quarter, grabbing 33 yards on 8 carries. Incorporating Ridley and getting him some reps in an easy win was surely just another way to strengthen their rushing offense as they push toward prepping for the postseason.
On defense, veteran and captain Vince Wilfork lead the team in tackles with 10; including a sack and a tackle for a loss. Rob Ninkovich contributed a sack as well, and Jerod Mayo nabbed the only interception of the game on an athletic catch intended for Garcon.
Looking ahead: The Patriots return to their familiar 4:15pm time slot next week when the travel to Washington to take on the 4-8 Redskins. The Redskins have almost as many quarterback issues as the last two teams the Patriots have faced, as Rex Grossman finished with a 47.5 QB rating in their loss to the New York Jets this week.