Week 9 Game Recap: Indianapolis Colts 40, New England Patriots 21
What you need to know
Peyton Manning finally exorcised his New England demons, and he did so in emphatic fashion. Leading the Colts to scores on seven of their first eight drives earned Manning his first win against the Tom Brady-led Patriots. He threw touchdowns to both of his favorite receivers; two to Marvin Harrison and one to Reggie Wayne. In addition to his three scores, it was Manningís first 300 yard passing game of the season.
Harrison and Wayne both received double-digit targets, and both finished with over 120 receiving yards. Edgerrin James was once again the workhorse on the ground, earning 104 yards and one touchdown on 34 rushing attempts. Thanks in large part to Jamesí work on the ground, as well on Manningís potently effective passing attack, the Colts were able to secure a large time of possession advantage over New England.
With the Indianapolis offense hitting on all cylinders, the Coltsí defense didnít need to be perfect. And they werenít, but they were stiff enough to hold off Bradyís attempts to bring the Patriots back in the second half, and made more than enough stops to allow their offense to outscore their opponent.
Tom Brady had an excellent performance and produced outstanding numbers for the Patriotsí offense. His three touchdown tosses were spread to wide receivers Deion Branch, Troy Brown, and tight end Daniel Graham. He made few mental errors, and most of his misses were a result of Indianapolisí pass rush.
There was no balance to the Patriotsí offense, as the high scoring Colts took the running game, led by Corey Dillon, completely out of the ball game. Dillon finished the game with a season-low 12 rushing attempts.
The real story for New England was once again their defense, as the secondary had no success stopping the Colts through the air. They were burned for several big plays, and allowed three scores. The rush defense was better, but only with respect to big plays. The Colts still had two rushing scores, despite averaging less than four yards per carry. It was the ineffectiveness of the Patriotsí defense that was their undoing, as Tom Bradyís magic couldnít get them out of the hole Indianapolis kept them in all night.
What you ought to know
|QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 28 - 37 - 321 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 24 - 0|
Manning was obviously very motivated for this game. His performance highlighted the strengths of his game, as he repeatedly led his team on scoring drive after scoring drive, often on sustained drives of ten plays or more. He had no problems picking apart the New England secondary, managing his first 300 yard game of the year, and three touchdown passes. He threw a first half interception on an under thrown pass to tight end Dallas Clark. Uncharacteristically, he ran for 24 yards on three scrambles. He ran his normal offense calling plays at the line and did not seem to be affected much by the crowd outside of a few plays. He was extremely aggressive forcing New England to alter their game at times catching them substituting players on defense.
Workhorse is the perfect word to describe Jamesí performance. He didnít blow up on any huge gains, but he was a consistent force that earned several first downs and aided the Coltsí play action passing. He finished the game with 34 rushing attempts and caught all three of his targets. His rushing coupled with Manningís passing allowed Indianapolis to dominate time of possession.
Rhodes' only run spelled James early in the second half. He made the most of his only opportunity, finding the end zone on a four yard run.
Harrison had a phenomenal night. Manning regularly found him open, and Harrison converted those throws into his best fantasy performance of the season. He basically looked as good as he ever has.
Wayne ended the night with a fantastic stat line that included 120 plus yards and a receiving touchdown. He was Manningís number one target option. He regularly abused Patriotsí cornerback Duane Starks.
Stokley contributed from his third wide out role with 34 yards on four receptions.
Fletcher made good on both of his targets.
Despite Manningís excellent night, Clark was mostly an afterthought in the passing game, finishing with only one reception. He was the target on Manningís only interception.
Vanderjagt was solid making two field goal attempts, one after a bad snap, and all four extra points.
Thanks in large part to the volume of points put on the scoreboard by the Coltsí offense, the rush defense had a great game. New Englandís Corey Dillon was mostly used in the first half, and even then was marginally effective. They held Dillon under 50 yards and forced a fumble by him that led to an Indianapolis score.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a great deal of success against this unit. New England focused on passing the ball for a great majority of the game, and as such most of the defensive pressure was on the Coltsí secondary. They allowed three scores throw the air and over 250 yards to Brady. The pass rush did manage two sacks in the game, but one came on the last play of the game against New England backup quarterback Doug Flutie.
|QB Tom Brady, Pass: 22 - 33 - 265 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Brady had a great night from a fantasy perspective, despite not being able to lead his team to victory. He threw a lot, especially in the second half, and for the most part was very effective. He distributed the ball to six different receivers, hitting Deion Branch, Troy Brown, and Daniel Graham for touchdowns. He threw no interceptions.
Flutie relieved starter Tom Brady late in the game, once the score was out of reach. He started inaccurately, but ultimately completed three passes. He was sacked and fumbled the ball on the last play of the game and Indianapolis recovered.
|RB Corey Dillon, Rush: 12 - 40 - 0, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets)|
Dillonís opportunities were limited by the disparity on the scoreboard. He had adequate numbers when he did get touches in the first half, although his second quarter lost fumble essentially ended his chances for the night. The Colts went up big, and the Patriots abandoned the running game. That said, Dillon clearly ran hard when he got the ball and did not look hampered by the injuries heís been battling.
Cloudís only carry to spell Corey Dillon was a horrendous five yard loss. He saw no further action after that.
Branch was highly efficient with his targets, turning in a 50 plus yard performance and scoring the Patriotsí first touchdown of the game. While being number one on the depth chart, he was targeted less than Troy Brown and Daniel Graham.
Brown had an unexpectedly productive night, finding the end zone in the second half and finishing with over 50 yards. He was Bradyís most targeted receiver.
Givens again played the role of a possession receiver, although he sprinkled in a few big catches as well. It is clear that Brady trusts him to make the tough catch, and earn the necessary yards, as he was targeted on two fourth down attempts. He converted the first but not the second of these quick slants from Brady.
Dwight finished with no catches.
Graham was Bradyís second option on the night, and for stretches at a time he was consistently targeted in the passing game. He turned a tight end screen into a 30 yard run for a touchdown, looking swift and athletic in the process.
Watson made three receptions for 36 yards, including two back to back catches at the start of the third quarter for 23 and seven yards.
Vinatieri made all three of his extra point attempts.
The New England rush defense allowed two rushing touchdowns. They didnít allow any big rushing plays, but James did wear them down over the course of 34 carries and 100 plus yards. This unit suffered from the clock management expertise of the Colts, as they were on the field for most of the game and were pounded by the Indianapolis line.
Still severely banged up, this unit once again performed poorly. Cornerback Duane Starks was benched after repeatedly being burned by Indianapolis receivers, especially Reggie Wayne. Overall, the pass defense allowed over 300 yards and three scores. Linebacker Mike Vrabel used his soft hands to pick off a Peyton Manning pass in the first half---one of the few highlights for this unit.