The theme of Sunday evening's game for the Patriots was all about one's, one risky play, one bobbled catch, one unnecessary challenge, one fumbled catch in the endzone and of course, losing the game by one point. The New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts are the epiphany of a rivalry. The evening's game was receiving more hype than some of the past Super Bowls and with great stories that stem from both sides, Brady's triumphant return and Indianapolis perfect record since Tony Dungy's departure, it was difficult not to get caught up. As the evening began, I had my own ideas as to how the game would pan out, I feared the Colts offense and they're undefeated record (the Patriots were in this very same position not too long ago). Peyton Manning and Tom Brady often deny that this game is anything personal, but when two of the most highly-regarded quarterbacks ever play mid-season, it's bound to set the tone for the rest of the league.
Lucas Oil Stadium had a record attendance number of 67,476, an Indianapolis franchise record. All 67,476 fans saw the New England Patriots lose complete momentum of the game and give up a 17-point lead in a matter of minutes. As the points racked up on the board for the Colts, the Patriots' rookies proved to have learned much more than expected.
Here's where some of the toughest competition exists, the rookies and the veteran players of the teams. Does having an overabundance of experience make a better player? Or is it the pure talent that a player possesses, regardless of experience, that enables them to become playmakers? Both quarterbacks played with precision and the numbers show it all. Tom Brady was 29/49 passes with a total of 375 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Colts' Peyton Manning completed 28 for 44 passes amassing 327 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The receiving group of the Patriots showed their variety and strength. Veteran wide out Randy Moss had nine receptions -- including one for 69 yards -- totaling 179 yards with two touchdowns. Rookie WR/KR/PR Julian Edelman was coming off of a broken arm injury and had two receptions for 14 yards, one catch resulting in a touchdown from a pass over the middle by Tom Brady. The recently injured rookie celebrated his first career touchdown by spiking the ball, with his non-injured arm of course. On the defensive end, LB Jerod Mayo showed the value of experience with a crucial sack costing the Colts a total of 11 yards. Rookie S Patrick Chung continued his momentum from the last few games with four tackles in the game. Fellow Rookie CD Darius Butler contributed seven total tackles for the game. I believe the standout rookie for the evening was newly drafted offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer from the University of Houston. The subsequent replacement during Matt Light's knee injury has shown a strong presence at left tackle and Coach Belichick has already taken notice. The German-born athlete was responsible for the Colts' Dwight Freeney and did the job well. Upon Matt Light's return next week for the Jets game, who will it be? Based on Vollmer's recent feat, it might be light's out for Matt.
Placed side by side, both teams' stats are eerily similar. Patriots had 25 total first downs, the Colts had 24 and the final score was an unbearable 35-34 Indianapolis advantage. The game was a painful one to lose and all of Patriot Nation, including myself, sat in disbelief as Peyton Manning completed a touchdown pass to WR Reggie Wayne for the win and with only 13 seconds left for the Patriots offense to score...Tom Brady is good but not that good. The Patriots have to go through the Colts in the playoffs, at least now, it'll be with a chip on their shoulders. Indianapolis left the game with another win to add to their impeccable season.
Rookie Report Card - Patriots Vs Colts
Offensive Tackle Sebastian Vollmer: A+
Being the replacement for a player that is so key to the team's offense is a tough position to be in. At the very least, you're expected to just be average. Instead Sebastian Vollmer has decided to give Matt Light some competition. Keeping Dwight Freeney in check is not a simple job but Vollmer sure made it look easy.
Wide Receive/Punt Returner/Kick Returner Julian Edelman: A
As far as I'm concerned Julian Edelman looks pretty healthy after recovering from his broken arm. With just two catches, Edelman achieved his first career touchdown with the Patriots. With Edelman back in playing form the Welker-Edelman duo can be in full force once more.
Safety Patrick Chung: B-
Not his most outstanding game but still had four tackles and an assist. Could have done without the mock photo shoot with Leigh Bodden after an interception but all rookies have moments like this, I suppose. Just don't let it happen again.
Cornerback Leigh Bodden: C+
I know he isn't a rookie but he definitely pulled a rookie move this game. Bodden successfully picked off Peyton Manning and after the interception, Patrick Chung pretends to snap pictures of Bodden, while playfully poses. A unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is drawn in the third quarter for 12 yards. Let's try not to get too excited, a rookie can get excited but not someone who has a bit more experience.
Korner Kicks - New England Patriots Vs New York Jets
The presumptive Mark "San-chise" is facing a more competitive, confident and determined Patriots team this time around. With somewhat good timing, the Jets are 4-5, tied with Miami in the division, while the Patriots still hold a two game lead. The Jets suffered a close loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Rex Ryan knows what's at stake against the Patriots, "We're barely breathing for the playoffs. We're going to find out what kind of men we have in this locker room and I know the kind of guys we have. I believe in the character of our football team, and I know New England is going to get all we have. We'll see if it's good enough."
Even with a 6-3 record, the Patriots will be forced to learn and to grow from their loss to the Colts. They have to prevent a further slide, by avoiding a defeat from the hot and cold Jets. Rex Ryan, don't expect Coach Belichick to make any risky calls on 4th down this time around. The Patriots have already begun preparations for next Sunday's game. If they perform as expected, New England will improve their record to 7-3 to seize control of the division
Prediction for next week:.
New England Patriots 27
New York Jets 14
Kisha Tapangan covers the NFL and the New England Patriots for PatriotsInsider.com. To read more of her material, visit her blog at www.nrwithkisha.com . To contact Kisha, you can email her here: firstname.lastname@example.org