Patriots

Colts 27, Patriots 17: Mac Jones, offense can’t complete 4th-quarter rally

The Patriots' 7-game win streak has come to an end.

Darius Leonard of the Colts carries the ball and stiff-arms Jakobi Meyers after an interception against the New England Patriots. Andy Lyons/Getty Images


In the long history of the Patriots-Colts rivalry, more often than not, it’s been the most physical team that has come out on top. And Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium was no exception.

In a bruising game that saw multiple ejections and a ton of trash talking, Indy edged New England, 27-17, in a game that felt an awful lot like a playoff contest.

Jonathan Taylor ran for 170 yards to power the Colts (8-6) who won for the fifth time in the last six contests. Taylor busted open a three-point game in the fourth quarter with a 67-yard touchdown run that put the exclamation point on the victory for Indy.

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The Patriots (9-5) saw their seven-game win streak come to an end, as Mac Jones went 26 for 45 with 299 yards passing, while Hunter Henry (6 catches, 77 yards, two touchdowns) contributed for New England in a losing effort.

The Patriots’ eight-game win streak against Indy came to an end, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. New England, who trailed 20-0, cut the lead to 20-17 late in the fourth, but could get no closer.

The Colts dominated for most of the first three quarters, racing to a 17-0 halftime lead on the strength of a Nyheim Hines touchdown run (an eight-yarder off a director snap) a blocked punt E.J. Speed recovered in the end zone, and a 25-yard field goal from Michael Badgley.

The New England offense — and special teams — had a miserable start, with the blocked punt (the third of the season against Jake Bailey) a second-quarter interception by Jones, and an inability to get any sort of offensive traction in the air (75 first-half passing yards) or on the ground (Stevenson had 6 carries for 20 yards at halftime). It marked the first time the Patriots had been shut out in the first half since 2016.

The second half started on an equally sour note for the New England offense, as Jones tossed his second interception, which was turned into another field goal from Badgley, making it 20-0.

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That’s when the Patriots woke up. Following an on-field skirmish between Indy wide receiver Michael Pittman and New England safety Kyle Dugger (one that saw them both get tossed), the Patriots punched in their first score of the night on a 12-yard reception from Henry to make it 20-7.

New England kept after it. On the next Indy series, Jamie Collins tipped a Wentz pass, and Devin McCourty came down with the ball. The Patriots ultimately settled for a field goal to cut the lead to 10 midway through the fourth.

New England made it 20-17 with an electrifying drive that included an impressive 43-yard pass play from Jones to N’Keal Harry, a play that set up Henry’s seconds touchdown catch of the night to make it 20-17 with just over two minutes remaining. That set the stage for Taylor’s closing kick, a 67-yard run to the end zone that ended things.

Patriots lose —

And the win streak comes to an end.

Taylor comes up big — 11:05 p.m.

The Colts just answered with a 67-yard touchdown by Jonathan Taylor. Just a big play at the most important time. It’s 27-17 with 2:01 to go. That should end it.

Pats cut it to 3 — 11:00 p.m.

Whoa. N’Keal Harry just went up and made one of the finest catches I have ever seen him come away with, a 43-yarder deep down the middle of the field.

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A roughing-the-passer call on the same play got the ball down to the Indy 7-yard line, and three plays after that, Jones found Henry for his second TD of the night to make it 20-17 with 2:21 left in regulation.

Pats cut the lead to 10 — 10:39 p.m.

Good but not great sequence there for the New England offense. After the McCourty interception, Mac Jones came through with a 10-yard connection with Jakobi Meyers, a big fourth-down conversion that moved the chains. Kendrick Bourne followed that with an 18-yard pickup on an end-around that got the Patriots down to the Indy 4-yard line. Ultimately, the Patriots had to settle for three, but it was another positive step in the right direction. It’s 20-10 with 8:57 left in regulation.

McCourty with the interception — 10:26 p.m.

The Patriots have regained possession, as Devin McCourty came away with an interception of Wentz on a tipped ball by Collins. Terrific (and timely) stop by the New England defense. It’s 20-7 with 13:35 left in regulation, but the Patriots now have the ball at their own 47-yard line. More signs of life from New England.

McCourty with the interception — 10:26 p.m.

The Patriots have regained possession, as Devin McCourty came away with an interception of Wentz on a tipped ball by Collins. Terrific (and timely) stop by the New England defense. It’s 20-7 with 13:35 left in regulation, but the Patriots now have the ball at their own 47-yard line. More signs of life from New England.

Patriots on the board — 10:18 p.m.

Hunter Henry came up big there — first on a ball where Jones threw against his body, but the tight end managed to pick up the ball for an eight-yard reception, and then, an 11-yarder that got the Patriots to the Indy 23-yard line. After a pair of penalties (one on Meyers for holding and another on Wynn for a false start), Henry eventually found the end zone with a 12-yard reception. It’s 20-7 with 14:55 to go in regulation. Big sequence there for the tight end, who now has a career-high eight touchdown catches on the year.

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Three quarters are done — 10:15 p.m.

Indy holds a 20-0 lead, but the Patriots are driving.

Signs of life? — 10:08 p.m.

Hey, we’ve seen hockey games where a fight has been able to give a team a spark. Maybe that’s what we are seeing here. Who knows? The Patriots need a spark in the worst way. But the Colts just missed a 40-yarder, and New England will get the ball back with 4:33 to go in the third quarter.

Three notes — 10:05 p.m.

•Jamie Collins had a potential pick-six go through his hands.

•The Patriots still don’t have an answer for Jonathan Taylor.

•Kyle Dugger is going to be fined, but he still might have a beef, as Pittman led with his head there. Ugly play; things are starting to get awfully chippy here.

Pats turn it over again — 9:55 p.m.

New England turns it over on downs at its own 47-yard line. Just a miserable night for the Patriots, who are making some plays, but far too inconsistently to be competitive against a playoff-worthy team like the Colts.

Mac: 11-17, 101 yards, 2 INTs

Stevenson: 9 carries, 30 yards

Henry: 1 catch, 25 yards

Colts piling on — 9:48 p.m.

Just brutal. The Colts missed the first field goal attempt from 46, but an offside call on Brandon King gave them another shot, and Badgley converted from 41. It was a good hold, really, after the interception, but the Patriots can’t afford to be that sloppy when trailing by double digits in the second half on the road. It’s 20-0 with 11:49 left in the third quarter. (Let’s see if anything comes from the Wentz-Judon back-and-forth after that one.)

Matt Judon and Carson Wentz spotted jawing after a play. Not sure they agreed to disagree.

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Another INT for Jones — 9:43 p.m.

Bad to worse. Indy has the ball back at the New England 34 after the interception. Just a brutal two-plus quarters for the Patriots.

Halftime analysis — 9:26 p.m.

Two quarters are in the books at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Patriots trail 17-0.

-Mac Jones: 8-11, 75 yards, 1 INT

-Rhamondre Stevenson: 6 carries, 20 yards

-Carson Wentz: 3-6, 38 yards, 1 TD

-Jonathan Taylor: 18 carries, 73 yards

-The first half was 180 degrees removed from how the Patriots needed to execute. A blocked punt, an interception from Jones, missed pass plays, poor blocking (Isaiah Wynn was one culprit, but he certainly wasn’t alone), and an inability to stop Indy’s run game all played a role. As well as the Patriots played over the last seven games, they were that bad in the first half. Things have to be cleaned up in all three phases if New England is going to get back into this one.

-Indy has been really sharp the first two quarters. No points allowed, no penalties, just one punt, and three scoring drives. As a team, they have taken care of business.

-Isaiah Wynn appeared to give up a sack, and was blocked into Stevenson on another play. A poor job of holding up at the point of attack.

-Jones just barely avoided disaster on a pass over the middle for Jonnu Smith — a deflected pass almost went for a pick. Down 17-0 late in the second, that would have been an absolute disaster. In truth, the disaster came a few minutes later when Darius Leonard picked off Jones in the red zone with a little under two minutes left in the first half. I’ll be interested in seeing if they change up their offensive approach in the second half — not sure what they might look like, but they do need an offensive jolt. (Jakobi Meyers’ pass play?)

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-The defense forced an early punt (for some reason, Indy didn’t give Taylor the ball on its first offensive possession), but there’s been little resistance after that. We’re broad-brushing it here, but in the first half, the Colts did a lot of the same thing to the Patriots that New England did to Buffalo a couple of weeks ago, bullying them with a physical run game. Wentz made some good throws, but the Colts rise and fall on the strength of that ground game. So far, the New England defense has failed to rise to the occasion.

-Special teams had a ghastly start. Gunner Olszewski fumbled out of bounds (the Patriots did maintain possession) and Jake Bailey had a punt blocked. (It appeared that Matthew Adams ran past Jakob Johnson to knock it down.) The less said, the better.

Patriots stumble again — 9:22 p.m.

Indy’s Darius Leonard just delivered a red-zone pick with a little under two minutes remaining in the first half. The Colts have the ball and a 17-0 lead. A miserable first half for New England.

Colts keep pouring it on — 9:10 p.m.

The Colts settle for a 25-yard field goal to make it 17-0 with 4:31 left in the first half. I suppose giving up three is better than the alternative, but New England has to start forcing punts. In our pregame coverage, we wrote about the Patriots needing to be able to absorb that early punch from Indy and the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd. They haven’t. At all. The Colts are bullying New England on offense, as Jonathan Taylor continues to pile up big yardage. On defense, Indy has contained the New England ground game. And the Patriots’ special teamers have been sluggish at best. There’s a lot of football to be played — and remember, the Patriots are excellent in the fourth quarter — but they have to answer soon, or this thing could very even uglier.

End of the first — 8:52 p.m.

End of the first, and Indy is up 14-0.

Mac Jones: 1 carry, 12 yards; 5-6, 30 yards

Rhamondre Stevenson: 5 carries, 7 yards

Colts take 14-0 lead — 8:49 p.m.

Awful sequence for New England there — Jake Bailey had a blocked punt, which was recovered in the end zone. It’s 14-0, and the Patriots are back on their heels. An ugly start against the best first-quarter team in the league. New England has to respond here or risk digging an even deeper hole for itself.

(One more note: On the second-and-8 where Stevenson lost three yards, Isaiah Wynn was blocked into Stevenson. Wynn has to do a better job of holding up at the point of attack.)

Colts seize command — 8:39 p.m.

Really sharp drive there for the Colts, who take a 7-0 lead on an eight-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with a Hines TD off a direct snap. Colts are doing basically a lot of the same things that they did a couple of weeks ago against the Bills. Bully ball with Taylor and that offensive line. (Which doesn’t appear to be missing Kelly, at least in the early going.) Pound it, over and over again. Wonder how much the Patriots might adjust. Regardless, it’s 7-0 with 3:53 left in the first quarter.

Three quick (early) notes — 8:30 p.m.

•That sack looked like it was on Isaiah Wynn.

•Those back-to-back penalties — illegal man downfield and delay of game — on that first drive are just brutal. Can’t have those sorts of mistakes in a game with little margin for error. (Even those the Cheffers’ crew is the most flag-happy in the league.)

•Interesting that there were no touches for Taylor on that first drive for Indy. We’ll see if that changes this series.

There’s no score with 8:51 left in the first quarter.

Pats’ starting O — 8:24 p.m.

TE: Hunter Henry

QB: Mac Jones

RB: Rhamondre Stevenson

FB: Jakob Johnson

Pats open in big nickel — 8:18 p.m.

Lots of defensive backs on the field to start for New England:

DL: Guy, Godchaux, Davis

LB: Judon, Bentley, Hightower

DB: Jackson, McCourty, Phillips, Dugger, Mills

Pats’ starting O — 8:24 p.m.

OL (left to right): Isaiah Wynn, Ted Karras, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Trent Brown

Pats win the toss, defer — 8:16 p.m.

Time for football.

Official Price Prediction — 7:55 p.m.

Ultimately, I think New England wins, 23-20. The Patriots need to withstand what will certainly be an amped up Indy team and Lucas Oil crowd. The Colts are the best first-quarter offense for a reason. But if the Patriots are able to stand firm and absorb that first punch, that’ll go a long way toward them winning. We’ll see Rhamondre Stevenson and Jonathan Taylor take center stage. But in the end, a late Indy gaffe (fumble? interception?) will open the door for a Patriots’ win.

Look for lots of flags tonight — 7:48 p.m.

What is the latest spread for tonight’s game? — 7:35 p.m.

This game has been back-and-forth over the course of the last week; it depends on which service you use, of course, but one outlet had the Patriots as 2.5-point favorites at the start of the week, only to see it flip all the way to New England being a 2.5-point underdog. (Maybe because Damien Harris has already been downgraded to out?) For our purposes, we’ll go with Indy as a 2.5-point favorite right now, as that seems to be the consensus for most betting sites. In addition, the most common over/under at this point is 45.5.

Ultimately, I like the Patriots to win by three, but even indoors on the (theoretically) fast track, the respective rushing attacks will take center stage throughout the evening — my guess is that whoever holds the lead going into the fourth will do whatever it takes to grind out the clock. I’ll still take the under.

Here are a few other betting notes, per our pals at Odds Shark:

•New England has gone under the total in eight of its last 10 road games, in five straight December games and in six consecutive prime-time appearances.

•New England is 7-0 against the spread in its last seven games.

•New England is 5-1 against the spread in its last six games against Indianapolis.

•New England is 8-0 straight up in its last eight games against Indianapolis.

•New England is 6-0 straight up in their last six games on the road.

•Indianapolis is 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games at home.

•Indianapolis is 3-16-1 against the spread in its last 20 games when playing at home against New England.

Great stat — 7:26 p.m.

Who should Pats fans root for this weekend? — 7:15 p.m.

Titans at Steelers: Two schools of thought here: one, the Patriots need every chance they can get when it comes to separation with Tennessee. Two, if Tennessee wins, that checks off one of the boxes when it comes to a potential clinch this weekend. That bring said, let’s think long term here and go with the Steelers.

Jets at Dolphins: J-E-T-S! Almost every potential clinching scenario for the Patriots this weekend starts with a New York win over Miami, so it should be “Go Gang Green!” around these parts come Sunday at 1 p.m.

•Panthers at Bills: The reeling Bills can pretty much say goodbye to their hopes of a divisional title if New England wins and they lose Sunday.

•Bengals at Broncos: A pair of 7-6 teams fighting for their playoff lives, the Patriots are pulling for the Bengals — a Denver loss (as well as a few other things) would set a weekend clinch possibility in motion for New England.

•Raiders at Browns: While most of New England’s clinching scenarios start with a Jets win over the Dolphins, the second step in that process — no matter how ridiculous it sounds — involves a Vegas win over Cleveland.

Resetting Pats’ offensive depth chart — 7:10 p.m.

Mac Jones weapons vs. Colts:

WR: Bourne, Meyers, Agholor, Harry, Olszewski

TE: Henry, Smith

RB: Stevenson, Bolden, Ozigbo

FB: Johnson

No Ryan Kelly for Colts — 7:05 p.m.

Starting center Ryan Kelly will miss tonight’s game against the Patriots — it’ll be interesting to see what sort of impact this might have on the Indy offensive line, and the Colts’ running game in general.

No big surprises among Pats’ inactives — 7:00 p.m.

The following players are inactive for Saturday’s game against the Colts:

QB Jarrett Stidham: The third-year quarterback continues his inactive stretch. Unless something unforeseen happens, I’d be surprise if he take a single snap in a game this year.

CB Joshuah Bledsoe: The rookie is just getting into real action — he was on the non-football injury list, and began practicing late last month — so it’s unlikely he’s ready for game action.

CB Joejuan Williams: The Patriots must feel good about the health of the back end of the cornerback depth chart if they can deactivate Williams. Despite the fact that they also play different positions, this could also be seen as an endorsement of safety Myles Bryant, who has impressed in a coverage role to this point in the season. (It’s also a chance to see Shaun Wade in action as well.)

RB Damien Harris: Downgraded earlier in the week, this means a TON of work for Rhamondre Stevenson tonight vs. the Colts. Would also expect to see Brandon Bolden get more work as well.

OL Yodny Cajuste: Cajuste was on and off the injury report this week with an illness. At the back end of the depth chart, this is a sign that the Patriots feel good about their offensive line depth heading into Saturday night.

A few stats to look for tonight — 6:38 p.m.

•The Patriots will look to improve to a 7-0 road record. The Patriots have finished undefeated on the road twice in franchise history (2007 and 2016).

•The Patriots rushed for 222 yards against Buffalo in the last game and have a chance to record back-to-back 200-yard rushing games for the first time since 2012 when the team rushed for 247 and 251 yards in back-to-back weeks against the Bills (9/30) and the Broncos (10/7).

•The Patriots have scored at least 30 points in nine straight games against the Colts, including the postseason, to tie an NFL record for the most consecutive games scoring 30 points against an opponent. Kansas City also accomplished the feat in nine straight games from 1964 through 1968  against the Denver Broncos.

•Nick Folk tied his career high with an NFL-leading 33 field goals in 2021 and needs one more to establish a new single-season career-high.

•Jakobi Meyers completed two passes for 45 yards in Week 4 against Tampa Bay. He is now 4-of-4 for 88 yards with two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating in his career. If he completes one more pass in 2021, he will be the first Patriots wide receiver to complete more than two passes in a single season.

•Mac Jones has won his first six road games to join Dak Prescott (6 in 2016 with Dallas) and Ben Roethlisberger (6 in 2004 with Pittsburgh) as the only rookie quarterbacks to win each of their first six road games in league annals. With a victory at Indianapolis, Jones will set the rookie mark and become the first rookie quarterback to win his first seven road games.

•J.C. Jackson has 24 career interceptions, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Kenny Easley (24 interceptions) and Richard Sherman (24) for the third-most by a player in his first four seasons since 1970. Only Lester Hayes (25 interceptions) and Everson Walls (25) have more.

•Matthew Judon increased his 2021 sack total to 12 ½ with an 9-yard sack of Josh Allen in the fourth quarter at Buffalo. He is tied with Chandler Jones (12 ½ in 2015) and Mike Vrabel (12 ½ in 2007) for the most sacks in a season by a Patriots player under Bill Belichick and needs one more sack to have the most in the Belichick Era.

(All courtesy of the Patriots’ PR staff)

Glove story — 6:28 p.m.

What needs to happen for the Patriots to clinch a playoff spot this weekend? — 6:25 p.m.

The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with the following:

•NE win + MIA loss or tie + CLE loss + BAL loss OR

•NE win + MIA loss or tie + CLE loss + DEN loss or tie + PIT loss or tie OR

•NE win + MIA loss or tie + CLE-LV tie + DEN loss + BAL loss OR

•NE win + MIA loss or tie + DEN-CIN tie + BAL loss

NOTE: There are other scenarios for New England that involve multiple ties.

Pregame reading list — 6:10 p.m.

The best way to prep for tonight’s contest:

Chad Finn: The Colts put their cards on the table, but expect Mac Jones and the Patriots to have the upper hand

Stat model shows how big the playoff implications are for Patriots in Saturday’s game against Colts

5 Colts players to watch against the Patriots in Week 15

Ben Affleck shares story from playing catch with Tom Brady that he believes is the reason for his greatness

What NFL experts are predicting for Saturday’s Patriots-Colts game

Welcome back — 6:00 p.m.

After an extended stretch away, we’re back to football tonight with the Patriots and Colts, live from Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. You’re going to want to keep it here all evening long for the latest on what promises to be one of the most compelling games of the season. We’ll have all the pregame information, including the latest betting line, inactive analysis, a look around the league at what games New England fans should care about the next few days, and much more. Let’s get started: CUE THE ORCHESTRA.

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