Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne's timing couldn't have been better. Both wide receivers had their best game of the year at a pivotal time for the Colts. Harrison grabbed 9 passes from Peyton Manning for 128 yards and 2 TDs. His season-best coming into the game was in week four versus the Titans (9-109, 2 TDs). Meanwhile, Wayne made plenty of noise from his side of the field, snaring 9 passes for 124 yards and 1 TD. It was Wayne's second consecutive week with nine catches, but his highest yardage total heading into last night was in week three versus Cleveland when he put up 97 yards.
Kickoff coverage rebounds
Credit special teams coach Russ Purnell and the Colts kickoff coverage unit for rebounding from a shaky performance against the Texans two weeks ago. Patriots kickoff returner Bethel Johnson was averaging 29.0 yards on his returns heading into Monday night. The Colts held him to an average of 16.9 yards on seven returns, begging the question of whether or not kicker Dave Rayner's kicks were purposely short as part of the game strategy. Rayner is usually more of a line drive kicker while last night's kickoffs appeared to have more height. Whether by design or simply due to an off-night, the kicks worked -- keeping Johnson from posting any big returns. Ellis Hobbs had the Patriots' only other kickoff return, a 24-yard effort.
Monday night's inactives
Here are the players from the Colts' 53-man roster who were inactive and didn't suit up: DT Vincent "Sweat Pea" Burns, RB Ran Carthon, RB Kory Chapman, DB Matt Giordano, WR Aaron Moorehead, LB Keith O'Neil, DE Josh Thomas, TE Ben Utecht. With both Carthon and Chapman on the inactive list, it's apparent the Colts don't need both on the 53-man roster with James, Rhodes, and Mungro healthy. The Colts have to make the decision to activate Tyjuan Hagler this week, so don't be surprised to see one of them, most likely Chapman, waived to accommodate that move.
DT Montae Reagor has recovered a fumble in each of his last two games, including one that he ran back for a touchdown against the Texans. Those two account for half of his four career recoveries. Jason David's fumble recovery against New England was the first of his pro career.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokely, who had four catches for 34 yards against the Patriots, now has 25 on the season for 271 yards. While some have suggested that the Colts just aren't throwing to him this season, the yardage associated with his catches is the area that has dropped off the most. At his current pace, he would finish the season with 26% less catches than 2004, but 50% less yards.
While everyone is focused on defensive end Robert Mathis' franchise record for consecutive games with at least one sack (8 games), they are likely overlooking another impressive statistic. With 9 sacks under his belt at the midpoint of the season, he leads the NFL in that category and he's just 1.5 sacks short of his career-best season sack total of 10.5 (2004).
Joseph Jefferson was back in action for the first time since week one. He had missed the last six games due to a turf toe injury. Jefferson alertly grabbed the ball on the Patriots' surprise onside kick attempt in the third quarter. He was also credited with two tackles on the night, teaming up with Rob Morris for the kickoff tackle right before the end of the first half, and a solo tackle on the first Colts kickoff of the fourth quarter.
AFC Defensive Player of the Week
Last week Tedy Bruschi was honored as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for posting ten tackles against the Bills. So what will the NFL do this week? Bruschi repeated his "incredible" feat with ten tackles this week along with fellow inside linebacker Mike Vrabel. No doubt the pair will share the honor this week -- if the league is going to be consistent -- despite making a combined 20 meaningless tackles as they watched the Colts score 40 points against them.
Not this time...
Turnovers haunted the Colts in previous trips to Foxboro, but on Monday Night they surrendered the ball just once on a Manning interception. But the Colts defense responded -- just as they did against Houston in the Colts' previous game -- by forcing a turnover of their own. Manning's interception set up the Patriots at midfield, but Bob Sanders forced a fumble by Corey Dillon six plays later at the Colts' 17-yard line. Jason David recovered it to end the threat. The Colts offense responded with a 73-yard drive for a touchdown.
Making the most of a few opportunities
Hunter Smith has been called upon to punt just three times in the last three games. After kicking 14 times in the first two games of the year, he's only punted nine times in the last six. Out of his 23 punts, ten have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line, with just one rolling into the end zone for a touchback.
TE Bryan Fletcher had two catches, ending a three-game streak without a catch. He now has six for the season for 86 yards.....Rookie defensive back Marlin Jackson has played in seven games this season and has posted at least five tackles in at least four of them.