Patriots - Colts: Report Cards

The loss to the Indianapolis Colts should be a wake-up call for most of the members of the Patriots defense. Hint: they are going to throw the long ball, so don't let them get behind you. The Patriots performance was nothing short of abysmal with the lone exception of some continued solid play by Brady, Branch and Graham. Here are Scout's team grades unit-by-unit for both the Colts and the Patriots.

PHOTO: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts to a fumble ruling as quarterback Tom Brady approaches the bench during the second quarter of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

PATRIOTS - COLTS: Report Cards
By Site Staff


PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Tom Brady completed 22 of 33 for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He spread the ball around, his six receiving targets each catching at least three passes. Deion Branch, tight end Daniel Graham, and Troy Brown had the touchdowns.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Corey Dillon (12 carries for 40 yards) was essentially a non-factor. He had runs of 10 and 13 yards but did nothing with his other carries. To make matters worse, Dillon's second-quarter fumble at the Colts' 18 was the key play in the game. The Patriots were driving for a potential tying touchdown; instead, they turned the ball over, and the Colts then marched 73 yards in nine plays to go up, 21-7. Versatile fullback Patrick Pass (hamstring) wasn't around to provide a change of pace.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Truly horrendous. Marvin Harrison (nine catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns) and Reggie Wayne (9-124, TD) played pitch-and-catch with Peyton Manning (28-of-37, 321 yards, three TDs) all day. The Patriots' defensive backs appeared to give away too much cushion, which has been a problem all season. The days of press coverage look to be over with this secondary.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Actually not that bad. Edgerrin James became the fourth back in five games to run for 100-plus yards against the Patriots, but he got just 104 yards on 34 carries (a 3.1-yard average). James' long run was only nine yards, although he did pick up seven first downs and converted two third-and-one's, a third-and-two and a second-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Manning had a 12-yard scramble, and Dominic Rhodes chipped in a four-yard touchdown run as the Patriots again went soft in the red zone.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Indy's Rhodes had two good kickoff returns of 37 and 31 yards in the first quarter. In general, though, there were no really big plays on either side, same as usual. One negative: The Patriots failed to execute an onside kickoff in the third quarter, giving the Colts a lay-up field goal after they took over at the Patriots' 22. Hard to judge the punt return team when Indy only punted once.

COACHING: D -- The defensive game plan was flawed in either its design or execution. And again, the Patriots had trouble getting their correct defensive personnel on the field. This isn't what the two-time defending Super Bowl champions thought they would be at the midway point of the season. Despite all the injuries, the coaching staff has to take a little bit of the blame.



PASSING OFFENSE: A -- The Colts had 321 yards through the air as QB Peyton Manning completed 28-of-37 passes, including three touchdowns passes, two to WR Marvin Harrison and one to WR Reggie Wayne. While Harrison and Wayne each had nine catches, Manning spread the ball around to six different receivers. Indianapolis did not give up a sack to New England.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- RB Edgerrin James rushed for 104 yards in 34 carries and one touchdown while RB Dominic Rhodes had a second rushing touchdown for the Colts. The Colts had 132 yards rushing as a team. Indianapolis controlled the football for 36:41, keeping the ball away from the Patriots' offense.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Yes, the Colts allowed 265 yards passing to Patriots QB Tom Brady, who hit on 22-of-33 passes and three touchdowns. But Indianapolis was able to keep the New England passing game in check when it needed to. The Colts did give up three pass plays of 20 or more yards, two of which went for touchdowns.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- New England RB Corey Dillon had just 40 yards on 12 carries to pace the Patriots on the ground. Indianapolis allowed just 34 yards rushing total. If not for some missed tackles early in the game, the grade could have been a bit higher.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Kickoff specialist Dave Rayner was inconsistent all evening, but was helped by some good work by the Colts' kickoff coverage unit. LB Rob Morris had four special teams tackles. Indianapolis had just one punt, but it was returned 29 yards. PK Mike Vanderjagt was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts. A great job of holding by P Hunter Smith on a bad snap during an extra point attempt rates high marks.

COACHING: A -- The all-business approach of Colts coach Tony Dungy and his group of assistants in the two weeks leading up to the New England game may have sounded like coach-speak, but that's exactly how Dungy had his team prepared. He has done a great job of not allowing his team to get too caught up in its current eight-game win streak as well as not getting too emotional after the team's first win in Foxboro since 1995.

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