FOXBOROUGH — For more than a half-hour of real time and nearly eight minutes of football time during the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts Sunday, Tom Brady did not take a single snap.
Yet during that span, which ran from 12:30 of the second quarter all the way down to 5:40, 17 points where scored — 14 for the Patriots, who turned a 14-7 deficit into a 21-17 advantage that would only grow.
How does that take place without something unforeseen having happened to the quarterback?
Start with this: a three-and-out Colts drive that culminates with Julian Edelman returning Pat McAfee’s punt 68 yards down the right sideline for a spectacular touchdown.
The next possession for the Colts didn’t go any better, though it was briefer. On the second play, Andrew Luck is picked off by the recently acquired cornerback Aqib Talib, who weaves 59 yards — much more than that when his east-west yardage is tallied — for a touchdown.
Suddenly the Patriots lead, 21-14 … and Brady again remains on the sideline as Luck and the Colts offense takes the field again. This possession ended better for the visitors — Adam Vinatieri’s 47-yard field goal pulled the Colts to within 4 at 21-17, but it’s as close as they would be the rest of the day.
“I’ll take [the break] if we’re scoring,” said Brady. “It didn’t matter much. The punt return for a touchdown, the interception return for a touchdown, that was awesome. When you get those types of plays, those are game-changing plays. I don’t remember too many times where we’ve lost games when we’ve had returns for touchdowns.”
Not that Brady and the offense didn’t do their part. The quarterback was efficient and steady all day, finishing 24 of 35 for 331 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Edelman had 222 all-purpose yards, including 58 and a touchdown in the passing game. One week it’s Danny Woodhead, the next it’s Edelman …
“That’s team football,” Brady said. “That’s what it’s about. Julian’s been dying to get out there and make plays. He certainly did today, and next week it could be someone else.
The Colts aren’t exclusive in this club, but it was evident from the early moments that they had no answers for Rob Gronkowski, had seven catches for 137 yards and two scores.
“Yeah, we got some good matchups [for Rob],” Brady said. “I try to take advantage of those where I could, and I missed a couple of other opportunities where I could have had him.”
While the receivers had little trouble getting open, Brady also noted that the offensive line bought him whatever time he needed.
“It’s a great effort,” Brady said. “When they play well, we play well. The way they were blocking up front, I was able to make my reads make my throws and my receivers were really doing a great job getting open. That’s what we did. [The Colts have] a defense that’s very unique, and that puts a lot of pressure on our guys. They really stepped up.”
It was particularly impressive given that starters Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly were out with injuries. Donald Thomas and Nick McDonald filled in capably, just as they are expected to do.
“They’re coached very hard, and I think the expectations are for the position, not necessarily the player, 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. Those guys can really step in when they need to.”