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Robert Kraft told Jonas Gray he was ‘going to have a big game’

11.17.14 at 1:39 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Kraft probably should think about playing the lottery this week.

According to running back Jonas Gray, the Patriots owner told him that he was going to have a big night against the Colts. Did he ever. Gray ran for four touchdowns and 199 yards on 38 carries to literally power the Patriots to a 42-20 win over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. All of this from the back who was cut by the Patriots just after the last preseason game.

“I had an indication all week that I was going to be a part of the game plan,” Gray said. “We knew that getting back to the run game was going to be a big emphasis. It’s kind of funny because on Saturday I remember walking into the building, and Mr. Kraft pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re going to have a big game this week, so be ready.’ Just hearing that from the owner, hearing that from the head coach, hearing that from the leaders of the team definitely gives you a positive outlook. It definitely gives you the mindset to go out and do your best.”

Gray was added to the practice squad after no one claimed him. When Stevan Ridley went down with a torn ACL against the Bills on Oct. 12, he was activated and made his debut against the Jets on Oct. 16. He’s been gaining confidence ever since. But was four touchdowns and 199 yards part of the game plan Sunday?

“No, it wasn’t part of the game plan,” Gray said. “We had a good game plan going in. They hammered into us all week the keys to winning the game. One of them was getting the running game going. We were able to do that early and often, and the guys did a good job blocking up front.”

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Read More: Indianapolis Colts, Jonas Gray, New England Patriots, Robert Kraft

Tom Brady: ‘Great win on the road against a damn good football team’

11.17.14 at 1:35 am ET
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Tom Brady stepped up his game in the second half of Sunday's win over the Colts. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tom Brady stepped up his game in the second half of Sunday’s win over the Colts. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It was a tale of two halves for quarterback Tom Brady.

The first half didn’t end well for Brady and the Patriots, as Brady threw an interception with less than two minutes to play (his second of the half), leading to an Indianapolis touchdown, cutting the Patriots lead to 14-10 at the break.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the second half was a completely different story as the team was able to overcome the poor first half and roll to a 42-20 win on the road over the Colts.

“It was a great win. It was a real complementary win,” Brady told reporters following the game. “The defense played great, they kept us in it all night. We got ahead — let them back in there at the [end of the first half] with a dumb interception, but we came out and played a lot better in the second half. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage, which was huge and Jonas [Gray] ran great. But, it all starts with the big guys up front and they played a great game.”

The first half was not a good one for the quarterback, as he was just 10-for-19 passing for 84 yards with two interceptions. He turned it around in a big way in the second half, going 9-for-11 for 173 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The 37-year-old finished 19-for-30 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The offense scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half. They didn’t score on its last one, but it came late in the fourth quarter when the unit was just running out the clock.

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Read More: Jonas Gray, Mike Adams, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady

Vince Wilfork: No surprise Patriots have been able to turn things around this season

11.17.14 at 12:57 am ET
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Vince Wilfork hasn't been shocked about the Patriots turnaround this season. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Vince Wilfork hasn’t been shocked about the Patriots turnaround this season. (Elsa/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — Vince Wilfork isn’t shocked by what happened at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night. In fact, he’s not shocked at the Patriots six-game win streak that’s vaulted them to an 8-2 record and the top of the AFC.

“It might be surprising to you guys, but not to us,” he said to reporters in the moments following the decisive 42-20 win over the Colts Sunday night, a game where New England was in command from start to finish and made a statement about their place in the AFC playoff picture.

“We’re not trying to send a statement — we’re just trying to play Patriots football,” said Wilfork after the New England defense held the high-flying Colts to a pair of touchdowns. “At the end of the day, you get graded on wins and losses, and the more wins you’re able to put up, the better it is for you.

“We’ve done it over the last couple of weeks, and we’re going to need it going forward, for the rest of the year. That’s the main key with all of this,” he added. “[But] it’s a great team win. We practiced our tails off. Came back from the bye ready to work and focus in. Bill [Belichick] asked for big plays to be made and boys to show up and we did. My hat goes off to everybody. The whole team, we played well today.”

Wilfork had plenty of nice words for young running back Jonas Gray — as well as the New England offensive line — in the victory. Gray ended up with 38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns, all career-highs for the Notre Dame product.

“Let me tell you something — he works his tail off,” Wilfork said of Gray, who was a practice squadder earlier in the season before being promoted to the active roster following the season-ending injury to starter Stevan Ridley. “I’m just happy to see a guy that works his tail off — coming from where he came from and doing what he did for us tonight, that was big.

“When Bill talks about the run game, it starts with the offensive line and defensive line. For a defensive linemen to look over, for me to see them go to work, that was the best feeling in the world. We kind of fed off of them. They led — they showed us the way today.

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Bill Belichick: Patriots ‘definitely deserved to win’

11.17.14 at 12:38 am ET
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Bill Belichick and the Patriots won for the first time in franchise history at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday night. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick and the Patriots won for the first time at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday night. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Heading into Sunday night’s game against the Colts, it was clear the Patriots could win games through the air, but what about on the ground, as in three of their last four games (all wins) they finished with less than 100 yards rushing.

Those questions were answered in a big way Sunday night.

Running back Jonas Gray led the way, rushing for 199 yards and four touchdowns, as the team finished with 244 total yards on the ground in its convincing 42-20 win Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium — a building in which the Patriots had never won in three previous tries.

“That was good win for our team today, I was really proud of the offensive line and the running game,” coach Bill Belichick told reporters after the game. “I thought those guys did a really good job — controlled the line of scrimmage and really helped us get the game under control.”

“Hats off to the offense line, the tight ends, the offensive line, Jonas [Gray], [James] Develin, those guys. They blocked well, ran well,” he added.

The Patriots had an extra week to prepare for the game with their bye week (so did the Colts) and they played one of their stronger overall games of the entire season in getting a signature road win. Belichick now is 11-4 coming off the bye week as coach of the Patriots.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, James Develin, Jonas Gray

What we learned: Jonas Gray leads Patriots in blowout win over Colts, 42-20

11.16.14 at 11:29 pm ET
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Jonas Gray celebrates after one of his four touchdowns Sunday night against the Colts. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jonas Gray celebrates after one of his four touchdowns Sunday night against the Colts. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots survived a subpar performance from Tom Brady and got four rushing touchdowns from Jonas Gray to post a 42-20 win over the Colts Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Brady tossed a pair of first-half picks — one of which led to a late second-quarter score that cut the Patriots lead to 14-10 before the end of the half — but New England was able to overcome with a steady and consistent ground performance from Gray, who ended up with 199 rushing yards on 38 carries yards in the win — the sixth consecutive victory for the Patriots.

In the end, Brady ended up 19-for-30 for 257 yards with two touchdowns to go along with his two picks. New England also got four catches for 71 yards and a touchdown from Rob Gronkowski.

On the other side of the ball, Andrew Luck was 23-for-39 for 303 yards with two touchdowns and one pick. In addition, Coby Fleneer had seven catches for 144 yards.

Here’s what we learned about the Patriots Sunday night, who picked up the first win in franchise history at Lucas Oil Stadium:

Jonas Gray is capable of achieving beast mode.

The youngster out of Notre Dame had his best night as a pro, running violently between the tackles all evening on the way to his first career 100-yard game. The 24-year-old, who finished with more yards on Sunday than he had in his entire NFL career coming into the game, was a difference maker for the Patriots against the Indianapolis rush defense. While the New England running game is still lacking its lead option in Stevan Ridley, with (mostly) solid performances since he arrived on the active roster, Gray has earned the right to be called feature back going forward.

Shane Vereen can still get it done out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

The running back was a really dependable presence in the passing game against the Colts, catching four passes for 59 yards, including a 39-yarder in the second half that set the stage for the first second half score for the Patriots. Vereen isn’t the traditional between-the-tackles back like Gray, but the fact that he continues to bring a multidimensional presence in both the running game and the passing game makes him a valuable part of the New England offense.

Rob Gronkowski has a good memory.

Two weeks ago, Gronkowski was seen jawing with Denver’s T.J. Ward, the defensive back who went low on him last year and ended up knocking him out for the season. On Sunday against the Colts, Gronkowski went toe-to-toe with safety Sergio Brown on a number of occasions, and at one point, drove him clear off the field in the name of finishing off his block. It’s not as obvious as the Ward situation, but it is worth mentioning that Gronkowski and Brown share a similar history — Gronkowski injured his forearm in 2012 blocking Brown on an extra point. While it’s not know what they were jabbering about at the end of the play, it’s worth putting that series of plays between the two in some sort of historical context. Maybe Gronkowski is settling up all family business, Michael Corleone-style, or maybe it’s just coincidental. Regardless, it was still pretty interesting.

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Halftime analysis: Patriots 14, Colts 10

11.16.14 at 9:51 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — After two quarters here at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Patriots hold a 14-10 lead. Here are a few quick notes.

Tom Brady has played a pretty poor first half, throwing a pair of interceptions. After two quarters, he’s 10-for-19 for 84 yards and two picked balls, both of which were intercepted by Mike Adams. Time will tell just how bad a decision it was for Brady to decided to drop back on third-and-inches at his 17 and throw off his back foot. The lob pass was picked by Adams and set up Indianapolis’ only touchdown and gave the home team a huge boost with 55 seconds left in the half. The best offensive player for the Patriots through the first two quarters was running back Jonas Gray, who has 14 carries for 100 yards and his first two career touchdowns. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck is 13-for-19 for 173 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and Reggie Wayne has three catches for 70 yards.

— The Patriots got good pressure on Luck on their first series, and they forced a three-and-out. The New England offense was able to put together one of their longest drives of the season out of the gate, an 11-play, 89-yard sequence that ended with a 4-yard run up the gut by Gray. Gray provided 34 of the 89 yards on the series, with 77 yards in all on the series coming on the ground. On that drive, the Patriots displayed a commitment to physical football with the addition of an extra tight end (tackle Cameron Fleming) on three of the 11 plays.

— The Colts answered with an eight-play drive that included a really impressive 46-yard pitch and catch between Luck and Wayne when the receiver found a nice hole in the seam and got the Colts into New England’s red zone. (It looked like there was a miscommunication between defensive backs on the play, leading to the big pickup by the Colts.) Indy stalled out, however, and had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri to make it 7-3 with 4:19 left in the first.

— Best defensive moment of the first half for the Patriots likely came after Luck had maneuvered the Colts into New England territory at the start of the second quarter, but Darrelle Revis tipped a Luck pass that was gathered by by Devin McCourty. New England was able to cash in on the ensuing drive when Brady and the offense turned in an 11-play, 68-yard drive that took 4:36 and ended with a three-yard run from Gray to make it 14-3 late in the first half.

— Worst offensive moment (aside from the aforementioned pick) for the Patriots in the first half came when Adams picked Brady on New England’s second series, a ball that looked a lot like the attempted connection that went for a big score against the Bills. Erik Walden hit Brady on the play, affecting the flight of the ball. The Colts took over at their own six-yard line, but couldn’t respond with a score. The Colts were also gifted with a great chance at the end of the pass when Brady floated one up there that was picked off Adams a second time. The Colts turned that around quickly with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks just before the end of the half.

Live Blog: Patriots, Tom Brady take on Andrew Luck, Colts

11.16.14 at 8:01 pm ET
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Live Blog Patriots vs. Colts, live blog
 

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