Bill Belichick game plans to take away an opponent’s primary weapon, but that is going to be a major challenge this week. Reggie Wayne has a long history of coming through with big games against the Patriots and he leads the league with 931 yards receiving. While the Pats do get some help with the addition of Aqib Talib, he is still a complete unknown in this team’s defense.
The most glaring mismatch between the Pats defense and the Colts offense is in long pass plays: Indy leads the league with 41 pass plays of 20 or more yards while the New England defense is dead last, allowing 47 plays of 20+ yards. What makes this stat even more glaring is that this defense is supposed to be a low risk, prevent the big play D; i.e., they don’t have a tendency to risk making a high reward play (e.g., one-gap blitzing).
Wayne is not going to be stopped but if the Pats can manage to at least contain him somewhat, perhaps limit him to only one or two big plays, then New England should win easily. Make the other offensive weapons – T.Y Hilton, Donnie Avery, or the running backs beat you.
On the offensive line rookie LT Anthony Castonzo has struggled at times in pass protection. The Patriots need DE Chandler Jones to take advantage of this and get to Andrew Luck before he gets a chance to set his feet and let Wayne run his pass route. Don’t be surprised if Castonzo gets help; when that happens somebody else needs to step up and get pressure on Luck.
Donald Brown missed some time earlier this year at running back, but the Pats run defense should be able to contain him and Vick Ballard. It goes pretty much without saying that if and when the Colts run the ball, that’s a positive for the Patriots.
Until last year Vince Wilfork was a two-down player, but for the last season and a half he rarely comes off the field. I think the Patriots would be better served to get someone else in their on third down because Big Vince seems to be wearing down and much less effective late in the game. This is resulting in less interior pressure on the opposing quarterback, giving him more time to throw, and has a large part of why we continue to see opponent’s offenses perform with much higher efficiency late in the game.
By The Numbers: Indianapolis Colts Offense
Points per Game: 20.7 (22nd)
Yards per Game: 387 (5th)
Rushing Yards per Game: 109.4 (14th)
Rushing Yards per Carry: 3.9 (21st)
Passing Yards per Game: 278 (8th)
Passing Yards per Attempt: 7.3 (17th)
Completion Percentage: 57.5% (28th)
Quarterback Rating: 79.1 (25th)
Pass Plays of 20+ Yards: 41 (1st)
Bottom Line: The Colts are going to have some big plays. There will be times when the Pats seem to be in good position, and Indy will make a 3rd and long. And similar to last week, though fans and the media will focus on the shortcomings of the defense and the number of yards they gave up, the Patriots will be victorious. During this current four game winning streak Indy has only beaten one team that was playing well at that point in time, and that team is Miami – who we have seen over the last couple of games is not worthy of being considered to being a playoff contender, but is indeed worthy of their losing record.
The Colts do not have an answer on defense to the Pats’ offense, and the Pats’ defense will come up with a key turnover or two to do their part to earn a victory.
Prediction: New England Patriots 34, Indianapolis Colts 21
This Day In Patriots History
November 17, 1961:
Boston Patriots 20, Oakland Raiders 17 at Nickerson Field
The Patriots won on a bizarre play that could not happen in today’s NFL. In the 4th quarter the Pats had Oakland backed up in their end of the field, and forced the Raiders to punt out of their own end zone. Important reminder: at that time football goal posts were on the goal line, not at the back end zone. Oakland’s Wayne Crow punted the ball and it hit the cross bar of the goal post, deflecting back into the end zone but not out of play. Patriot DE Leroy ‘Sweat Pea’ Moore pounced on it, giving the Pats the lead and the victory.
Ron Burton‘s six-yard run gave the Pats a 7-0 first quarter lead. In the second period Oakland’s Tom Flores tied it up with a 31 yard pass, and then Gino Cappelletti regained the lead for the Pats with a 29-yard field goal. Oakland came back on another Flores touchdown pass before a Cappelletti 33-yard field goal made the score 14-13 Raiders at halftime. Oakland added three more in the third quarter on a FG before Moore’s touchdown gave the Patriots the lead, improving their record to 6-4-1.
November 17, 1963:
Boston Patriots 24, Kansas City Chiefs 24 at Fenway Park
The Chiefs tied the game on a last second touchdown from backup Eddie Wilson, who was making his first pro start, to Curtis McClinton. For the Patriots Babe Parilli passed for 354 yards, Tony Romeo caught 10 passes for 149 yards and one TD, Jim Colclough had 9 catches for 137 yards, and Larry Garron ran for one touchdown and 75 yards on just 9 carries.
November 17, 1968:
Kansas City Chiefs 31, Boston Patriots 17 at KC Municipal Stadium
The Chiefs, who went on to finish 12-2 this season, were just too good on both sides of the ball for the Pats in this game as Len Dawson threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots were led by Jim Whalen (5 catches for 59 yards), Bill Murphy (4 catches for 72 yards) and Tom Sherman, who threw two touchdowns.
November 17, 1974:
New York Jets 21, New England Patriots 16 at Schaefer Stadium
Sam Cunningham (21 rushes for 113 yards) outplayed counterpart Emerson Boozer, but the Jets RB had a better supporting cast as the Pats settled for three field goals while the Jets were scoring touchdowns; Mack Herron scored the only TD for the Pats on a 5-yard run.
November 17, 1985:
New England Patriots 20, Seattle Seahawks 13 at the Kingdome
The Patriots came from behind with two 4th quarter touchdown passes by Steve Grogan to win their sixth consecutive game and 8th game of the season.
Seattle led 13-7 at the end of three quarters but Grogan found Craig James on a 23-yard score to tie it, and then Irving Fryar on a 13-yard strike with 2:39 remaining to win the game.
The winning score was set up when LB Larry McGrew tipped a Dave Krieg pass and safety Fred Marion returned it 83 yards to the Seattle 15. Marion had two interceptions on the game and Roland James had another; Andre Tippett and Garon Veris each had two sacks and Don Blackmon had one as well. Fryar finished with 82 yards receiving; he also had the first touchdown of the game on an 8-yard end around.
November 17, 1991:
New York Jets 28, New England Patriots 21 at Foxboro
The Pats rallied from a 21 point deficit but Jon Vaughn was tackled on the one-yard line as time expired, losing in the final minute of play for the 4th consecutive game.
Down 21-0 the Patriots rallied for three touchdowns in ten minutes, with an instant-replay reversal giving Vaughn a two-yard touchdown (his second of the day) to tie the score with 2:16 to go.
Ken O’Brien brought the Jets back and threw a 3-yard touchdown to backup OL/TE Trevor Matich with 57 seconds left. Matich, who does a very good job as a college football analyst these days, was drafted in the first round of the 1985 draft by the Pats and considered to be a huge bust, though he did manage to bounce around for 12 NFL seasons with five teams, primarily as a long snapper.
The Pats got the ball back on their 27 and Hugh Millen directed the final drive; a 16-yard pass to Irving Fryar (who had scored the first NE touchdown on a 56 yard reception) gave the Pats first down on the Jets 8-yard line with 12 seconds left. Millen then completed a pass to Greg McMurty to the one-yard line, but Vaughn’s run behind the left side of the line was stopped short of the goal line.
After the game coach Dick McPherson admitted that Vaughn had not practiced that play, but rather FB Leonard Russell (who had only 5 yards on 8 carries) got the ball in practice on those situations – but he decided to ‘go with the hot hand’, and let Vaughn run it instead.
Millen finished with 372 yards passing on a 30-43 game; Fryar had 8 catches for 143 yards; McMurty had 7 catches for 94 yards; and Marv Cook had 8 catches for 89 yards for the Patriots.
November 17, 1996:
Denver Broncos 34, New England Patriots 8 at Foxboro
Terrell Davis flashed his Hall of Fame form as Denver won their 7th straight game and ended the Pats four game winning streak. This is the game when marbles mouth Shannon Sharpe emitted his infamous National Guard comment.
John Elway had a long history of greatness against the Pats, but on this day he just sat back and watched. Davis finished with 210 yards from scrimmage: 154 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, plus four receptions for 56 yards and another TD.
The only points for the Patriots came in the third quarter on a 7-yard run by Curtis Martin, and a 2-point conversion from Drew Bledsoe to Keith Byars.
Denver finished the season with a 13-3 record but lost their first playoff game to Jacksonville; the Pats would go on to finish 11-5 and make it to the Super Bowl, losing to the Packers in New Orleans.
November 17, 2002:
Oakland Raiders 27, New England Patriots 20 at the Black Hole
The Raiders got a very minute bit of revenge as they beat the team that had defeated them in the previous year’s playoffs in what is alternately known as the Snow Bowl Game or the Tuck Rule Game, depending on your allegiance and point of view.
Oakland recovered a Tom Brady fumble that led to a score to take a 17-6 halftime lead, then Zack Crockett ran for his second touchdown in the third quarter to put the Raiders up by 18. Tedy Bruschi intercepted a pass that had bounced off the foot of Lawyer Milloy and ran it back 48 yards for a touchdown to close the gap but the Pats couldn’t get much of any offense going against a stingy and fired up Oakland defense. Late in the 4th quarter Sebastian Janikowski field goal made the score 27-13 but Kevin Faulk ran the ensuing kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown, with 59 seconds left to play. Adam Vinatieri, who had kicked two field goals, attempted the onside kick but the Raiders recovered and ran out the clock.
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November 17, 1946:
Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre was born in Kings Heath, Birmingham, England
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