INDIANAPOLIS - A week after playing the first penalty-free game in the franchise's history, the Patriots only had two accepted penalties last night in an 18-15 loss to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. But one of them proved quite costly.
Tight end David Thomas was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on a second-and-2 running play from the Colts' 32 with 4:45 remaining and the Patriots trailing, 18-15, in the fourth quarter. Thomas was trying to block defensive end Robert Mathis, instead he blocked the Patriots from having a chance to tie the game, as they were pushed back to the Indianapolis 46, with a third and 16.
Matt Cassel was intercepted on fourth and 15. The Colts ended up with the win, and Thomas ended up with some explaining to do.
"We're out there playing hard and trying to be physical and obviously the ref felt like I hit the guy after the play and he made his call and we got to live with it and I got to live with it," said Thomas, who said he never heard the whistle.
Thomas, who had three catches for 29 yards, refused to blame the officials, however.
"It was a mistake by me obviously and they called it. I own up to it," he said. "I feel like that was definitely a critical mistake for me and it definitely cost the team."
Slow start, bigger finish
Wide receiver Randy Moss had six catches for 65 yards, but all of them came in the second half, as the Colts tried to take him out of the game.
"The ball wasn't really designed to go my way," said Moss. "I think we tried to get a couple of looks, but the way the defense was playing it was going to be hard to get me the ball in the first half.
"Early in the week we knew we had to be patient because we knew they weren't going to really give us the big play. Of course it's frustrating to not have the opportunity to make a big, big play. We just had to be patient and inch the ball down the field slowly, but surely."
That's what the Patriots did with scoring drives of 13, 13, 15, and 15 plays.
Cornerback Ellis Hobbs was able to start despite suffering a shoulder injury last Sunday against the Rams.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, I get paid to do this," said Hobbs. "If I can play I'm going to play. I could play. It hurts, but whatever."
The Colts were caught short at the position as left cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who had been questionable with knee and hamstring injuries, sat out his fourth straight game.
Indianapolis was already without right cornerback Marlin Jackson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice Wednesday. Reserve Dante Hughes (ankle) also was out for Indy, missing his seventh straight game.
The Indy starters were Tim Jennings on the right side and Keiwan Ratliff, whom the Colts signed Thursday to take Jackson's spot, on the left. Ratliff, who had played in four games this season for Indianapolis before last night, had been on and off the Colts roster.
Luckily for Indy, it got safety Bob Sanders back to fortify the secondary.
Rookie Terrence Wheatley drew the start at left cornerback in place of Deltha O'Neal, who suffered a head injury against the Rams.
Wheatley had a pass breakup on third down on the Colts' opening drive, but he was injured breaking up a pass intended for Marvin Harrison in the second quarter. He left with what appeared to be an injury to his left hand and never returned.
He was replaced by O'Neal. Hobbs said Wheatley was a big loss.
"It's tough, because he was definitely on his game," said Hobbs. "He was actually giving a positive vibe back there for everybody. It's just tough to see anybody go down. I hope he's all right."
Welker ties record
With a 10-yard reception in the fourth quarter, Wes Welker tied the NFL record for most games with six or more receptions to begin a season. Welker has done it in each of the team's first eight games this season, matching Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith (2001) . . . Running back Kevin Faulk recorded his 3,000th receiving yard with an 11-yard catch in the second quarter, becoming the 14th player in team history to eclipse the mark. He now has 3,003 career receiving yards, ranking him 14th in team history. Faulk also took two snaps at quarterback as the Patriots ran the "Wildcat" formation that Miami used against them . . . After missing the last two games with a right ankle injury, Nick Kaczur resumed starting at right tackle. Stephen Neal, who had split time at right guard with Billy Yates the last two games since coming off the physically-unable-to-perform list, also reclaimed his starting spot . . . The Patriots were without running back LaMont Jordan (right calf), cornerback Lewis Sanders (hamstring), running back Sammy Morris (knee), linebacker Shawn Crable (shin) and utility player Matthew Slater (ankle) - all of whom were downgraded to out Saturday - and linebacker Eric Alexander (hamstring) because of injuries. Reserve tackle Wesley Britt was a healthy scratch and Matt Gutierrez was the third QB.