“I don’t think it was Dwayne’s injury,” Fleener said, when asked about stepping up with Allen out. “They wanted to take away T.Y. (Hilton) and Reggie (Wayne) and we understand that some teams are going to want to do that. Sometimes, they’re going to want to take away the run game and, fortunately, we have guys all over who are willing to kind of show up here and there a little bit more.”
The Patriots did a solid job of neutralizing Hilton, who entered the weekend third in NFL receiving yards with 937. The third-year wide receiver had three catches for 24 yards.
Wayne caught five passes for 91 yards, including a 46-yard catch.
“There were some bright spots,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “Coby made some big plays.”
It was Fleener’s second career 100-yard receiving game, the other 107 at Tennessee last season.
A 22-yard grab in the third quarter was arguably one of Fleener’s best in his three-year career as he hauled it in next to the sideline and dragged the toe of his right foot. It was so close, New England coach Bill Belichick threw the red challenge flag although he thought it would stand, which it did upon review.
“It looked like a good catch, but it was a really close play,” Belichick said. “And that’s what they said up in the booth, he’s probably in, but it’s really close. At that point, it didn’t look like we’d be the one to stop the clock a lot in the rest of the game. It did slow things down a little bit, gave us a chance to talk about our red-area defense.
“Obviously when Allen went out to the game, then all of the matchups and everything that we had gone into the game with changed a little bit.”
“It obviously changes things personnel-wise,” Luck said of losing Allen. “It’s part of football, and if any team knows that, it’s this team. You’ve just got to keep chugging along.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.