FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots hung 59 points on the Colts. So much for a rivalry. Let’s get right to the takeaways.
1) Gronkowski’s broken forearm — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm on the team’s last extra point attempt, according to multiple reports. It’s being said that he could be out of uniform for four to six weeks, wiping away the rest of his season. He could still come back for the playoffs in that time frame. It’s bad enough the team has been soldiering on without Aaron Hernandez, whose ankle still has the lingering effects of a high sprain from Week 2. While Hernandez can return as early as Thursday against the New York Jets, the situation now puts a spotlight on the many tight ends the team has left, including Visanthe Shiancoe, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Daniel Fells. Fells was a healthy scratch Sunday, while Shiancoe and Hoomanawanui were key parts of the offense against the Colts, working both as blocking tight ends. Hoomanawanui, or “Oh-oh” as he’s affectionately called, also doubles as the team’s fullback. In talking with both of them postgame, they expressed that they’re fine with the jobs they have now, but can obviously do much more. As we’ve heard from a number of Patriots over the years, they’re ready to do whatever the coaches ask. After this latest injury, they may be asked to do more soon enough.
2) Aqib Talib was OK, not great — The new guy started his tenure with a bit of a bang. He intercepted an Andrew Luck pass and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Everything he does from there there is gold, right? Wrong. He gave up two touchdowns, including a 43-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton in the fourth quarter in which he was flagged for pass interference. The penalty was declined. In fact, both of Luck’s touchdown passes to Hilton were with Talib in coverage, showing that the new cornerback’s debut was every bit as ugly as it was beautiful. Or as Patriots coach Bill Belichick would say (insert player), there was some good, some bad, and some things he definitely needs to work on.
3) Andrew Luck isn’t as polished as we thought he was — When you throw three interceptions in a game, you usually know where the blame is going to be laid. Luck finished the day 27 of 50 passing for 334 yards, two touchdowns, and the three picks. His first two interceptions were returned for touchdowns, including an 87-yard sprint to the end zone for Alfonzo Dennard that the speedy Luck couldn’t prevent. It wasn’t just that he was picked off, it was that both throws were atrocious. He was targeting one place and throwing it to another. It certainly wasn’t the rookie’s finest game and despite his newness to the pro level diminished our view of him. He has so much potential and this may be one of his worst showings yet.
4) The offensive line is doing a great job — Tom Brady had a relatively clean jersey at the end of the night and that’s always a good thing. He was only hit twice in the game. Mostly, he’s getting the ball out quickly. But when he’s not, he’s being given time to work on things. And that’s something special to note considering the team was without both starting guards, Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly. Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald filled in ably, as they had done so when pressed into duty last week. It’s comforting to note that the team has depth, something nobody believed coming out of training camp. Tom Brady put it best.
“They’re coached very hard and I think the expectations are for the position, not necessarily for the players,” he said. “So when Logan’s not in there, you’ve got to go in there and play like Logan. Hopefully we get healthy at some point, but until then, that’s why there are 53 guys on the roster. Each of those guys can really step in when they need to.”
5) Numbers never lie — This is the second time the Patriots have put up 59 points in the franchise history. The last time they did that was in 2009, a 59-0 win over the Tennessee Titans. It’s also the most lopsided defeat the Patriots have handed the Indianapolis Colts in the series’ history. Tom Brady improves to 10-4 all-time against the Colts. The team is 46-29 against Indy. Where this idea of a rivalry came from is beyond me. … The Patriots scored on offense, defense and special teams for only the second time in franchise history. The last time they did that was against the Miami Dolphins in 2010. … Sunday’s game marked the ninth time the Patriots had two interceptions returned for touchdowns. The last time they did that was in 2001, when Oti Smith and Ty Law returned picks for scores. … Also in the statistical categories of “wow,” Julian Edelman’s two touchdowns — one on a punt return and another receiving — mark the first time since 1985 a Patriots player scored a touchdown both ways. Irving Fryar caught a 5-yard TD and returned a punt 77 yards for a score against the Baltimore Colts Nov. 10, 1985. The Patriots have actually done the feat three times in the team’s history. In all three occasions, it has come against the Colts franchise.