Indianapolis Colts road woes continue, fall to Patriots 59-24

 

The Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck were no match for Tom Brady and the Patriots after getting pounded 59-24.

The game certainly didn’t start out looking like a Patriots blowout. The Colts took their first two possessions and drove down the field for touchdowns on each drive. The Patriots responded in kind to the first Indy score, and at the end of the first quarter, the Colts had a 14-7 edge. Then the wheels came off. They gave up a Julian Edelman punt return for a touchdown, and then Luck promptly threw a pick six to newly acquired Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib. Bang, bang. Patriots lead 21-14. Then the Pats offense became, well, the Pats offense, and Luck added two more interceptions, with another returned for a touchdown.

The Patriots dominated through the air all night (Brady went 24-35 for 331 yards and three scores), especially with tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom the Colts had absolutely no one to cover him with. Gronk caught seven balls for 137 yards and two touchdowns, making it look easy against the Colts corners. Wide receiver Wes Welker also chipped in for 7 catches and 80 yards. At this point, it is obvious that the corner position needs to be the number one priority in the offseason.

As far as the Colts go, Luck actually threw for three more yards than did Brady (334) and added two scores of his own, but he was hurt by poor protection, dropped passes, and the three picks. They did have success on the ground, totaling 119 yards and a touchdown. Vick Ballard carried the majority of the load with 72 yards on 16 carries (4.5 average). It could have been better, but the Colts fell behind to much too quickly and had to try and play catch-up. Against the Patriots, that just doesn’t work.

This game is the latest example of the Colts and their rookie quarterback’s road woes. At Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts are 4-1, with the only loss coming on a last minute 80-yard pass againstJacksonvillein week 3. Away from the friendly confines, however, it has been vastly different, going 2-3. A lot of the home success can be attributed to Andrew Luck’s stellar play at the Luke. However, every coin as two sides, and a lot of the struggles on the road can be placed at Luck’s feet as well. Let’s look at the numbers. At home, Luck is completed 56.9% of his passes (119 of 209 attempts), for 1,518 yards, with eight touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. That’s good for a quarterback rating of 88.9. Luck has also run the bal1 18 times for 112 yards (6.2 average) and 3 touchdowns.

That is contrasted starkly with his away game performance. On the road, Luck has hit on 116 out of 203 attempts (which is actually slightly better at 57.1%) for 1,147 yards, but only four touchdowns versus ten interceptions. That makes a quarterback rating of 67.4. Running the ball, luck has run once fewer (17 attempts) but has only half the yards and 2 two touchdowns.

So why the vast difference in performances? A lot of it has to do with the teams they’ve played. InIndianapolisso far, you haveMinnesota,Jacksonville,Cleveland, andMiami. All those teams are currently a combined 11-28 (.282 win percentage). The only “good” team they’ve faced at home wasGreen Bay(now 7-3), and let’s not forget that the Colts trailed in that game 21-3 at one point.

On the road, they have played some of the better teams and/or defenses in the entire league:Chicago(7-2 pending Monday night’s game), New England (now 7-3), and the New York Jets (4-6, but they have the NFL’s 6th ranked pass defense), in addition toTennessee(4-6) andJacksonville(1-9). Unsurprisingly, those are the only two road games the Colts have won.

What it really breaks down to is that Andrew Luck is beating the teams he really should be beating, and is getting beat by teams that are better right now than his team is. There’s no reason for Colts fans to enter into any kind of panic. The playoff hope is alive and well.Indianapolisnow stands at 6-4, and has a manageable schedule the rest of the way. There are winnable games the next two weeks againstBuffaloand atDetroit. Let’s say they split those, getting the record to 7-5. Then you have divisional opponentsTennesseeand a road game against likely AFC South champsHouston. If the Colts can get another split, that makes it 8-6. Then you have bottom feederKansas City, and a home game against a Texans team that will in all likelihood be resting its starters for a playoff run. Win both of those, and the Colts sit solidly at 10-6.

But for that to happen, Luck is going to have to step his game up more, and he has the physical and mental capabilities to do so. It’s not an easy road to the playoffs, but it is still in sight.

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