|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price break down how Jonas Gray, Patriots pounded Colts||11.17.14 at 3:18 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain how the Patriots, behind the four touchdowns of running back Jonas Gray, pounded the Colts, 42-20, Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. With their sixth straight win, the Patriots improve to 8-2, one game better than Kansas City and Denver in the AFC.
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.”
|Bill Belichick: Patriots ‘definitely deserved to win’||at 12:38 am ET|
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.
|Patriots suit 8 offensive linemen as Cameron Fleming returns, Dominique Easley will play||11.16.14 at 7:11 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots will be dressing eight offensive linemen tonight as the result of their inactive designations for Sunday night’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In a bit of a surprise, special teamer Don Jones was made inactive to make room for the return of Cameron Fleming, who has missed the last five games with a finger injury. For Jones, it’s just the second time in 10 games he’s been inactive and the first time since Week 3 against the Raiders.
Other inactives for the Patriots include DE Chandler Jones (hip), DL Casey Walker, RB James White, DB Alfonzo Dennard, OL Jordan Devey and WR Aaron Dobson.
Defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday, will play after returning Thursday and getting treatment for his knee.
Dennard is inactive for the third straight game after starting the previous three games. Chandler Jones is missing his third straight game since injuring his hip against the Jets on Oct. 16.
For the Colts, Ricky Jean Francois will start at defensive tackle for Arthur Jones, the brother of Chandler. Arthur Jones is out with an ankle injury. Other inactives for the Colts include ILB Henoc Muamba, OLB Victor Butler, OG Lance Louis, C/G Khaled Holmes, OT Xavier Nixon and DT Kelcy Quarles.
INDIANAPOLIS — For the first and only time this regular season, weather and the elements won’t be a factor for the Patriots as they play inside climate-controlled Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lucas Oil is not a dome but rather a retractable roof. But the roof, as it was the last time the Patriots played here for Super Bowl XLVI, will be closed, protecting both teams and the fans from the 28 degree temperatures, wind and snow in the forecast for central Indiana tonight.
This is the 78th meeting between the Patriots and Colts all time and the second time the Colts are playing the Patriots off the bye. In 2005, Peyton Manning and the Colts came into Gillette Stadium and handed Tom Brady and the Patriots a 40-21 defeat. As Chris Price points out, the Bill Belichick-coached Patriots have been very good in the last 10 years off the bye, losing just twice (2011, ’13). Including the playoffs, the Patriots hold a 48-29 series lead over the Colts.
The Patriots have won the last four games in the series, dating back to Nov. 21, 2010. The Colts haven’t beaten the Patriots since the infamous “4th-and-2″ game in 2009. Five years and a day after Kevin Faulk was stopped inches short of a first down in the flat on a Sunday night showdown, the Patriots get their chance to show they can actually win at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In addition to losing Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots lost in 2008 and 2009 to the Colts at the facility that opened in 2008.
Since 2010, the Patriots are a combined 30-3 in the second half of the regular season. The Patriots were a perfect 8-0 in 2010 and ’11, 7-1 in 2012 and 6-2 last season. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots are 90-23 in the second half. The Patriots also need one more win to guarantee a .500 season for the 14th straight season. Since 2001, the Patriots are the only team to finish above .500 in every season. Every other team has had at least one losing season in that stretch.
The lack of elements on a fast track certainly could help both quarterbacks and rejuvenated offenses light up the scoreboard. Tom Brady has thrown for 18 touchdowns and just one interception over the course of New England’s five-game winning streak. Andrew Luck has 26 touchdowns (9 INTs) for the season. He has seven straight games of 300 yards passing and leads the NFL with 3,085 yards through nine games.
|10 things you have to know about Patriots-Colts||11.15.14 at 9:00 am ET|
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday night’s contest between the Patriots and Colts:
Our three favorite matchups on the night:
1. Tight end Rob Gronkowski against the Colts secondary/linebackers: Indy has a good secondary and has done moderately well when it comes to slowing down opposing wide receivers and running backs in the passing game. They haven’t been as successful when it comes to slowing down tight ends. According to Football Outsiders, Indy is 29th in the league in DVOA against tight ends — the Colts have allowed 49 receptions for 577 yards and seven touchdowns against tight ends, an average of 11.8 yards per catch. Contrast that with the work of Gronkowski over the last five weeks (36 catches for 516 yards and five touchdowns), and you see why this is maybe the most winnable matchup of the evening for the New England offense.
2. Cornerback Darrelle Revis against wide receiver T.Y. Hilton: The Patriots secondary is one of the best in the league when it comes to limiting big pass plays — New England is best in the league when it comes to limiting pass plays of 40 yards or more (the Patriots have only given up one, coming in the last game against the Broncos) and 12th-best in the NFL when it comes to allowing pas splays of 20 yards or more. Meanwhile, Hilton is one of the best receivers in the NFL when it comes to explosive pass plays. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder out of Florida International averages 16.7 yards per catch (sixth-best in the league). His 15 catches for 20-plus yards is third in the NFL, and his four catches of 40-plus yards is tied for fifth. With the understanding that it won’t be exclusively man coverage against the Indy pass catchers all night — you can’t do that against a mobile quarterback, as it can get really dicey when things break down — expect to see a lot of Hilton against Revis. At the same time, you would have to think that the Patriots would yield some occasional chunk yardage against Hilton if it meant preventing the big play. In the end, if New England and Revis can limit the damage he’s capable of inflicting (say, allowing seven catches for 90 yards), you would have to think the Patriots could live with that if they can keep him out of the end zone.
3. Head coach Chuck Pagano against offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: The Colts love to send extra rushers (Pagano has always been a proponent of extra pressure, dating back to his days as the Baltimore defensive coordinator), and he will likely increase the amount of pressure on quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday night. It will be on the Patriots — specifically, McDaniels and Brady — to find ways to get the ball out as quickly as possible. As has been the case for much of the season, figure on New England utilizing two tight end sets, with a heavy dose of fullback James Develin thrown in for good measure. In addition, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Patriots offer some misdirection in the form of some screens, as well as (if they are able to get any traction in the running game) some play-action as well.
4. Under the radar opponent who Patriots’ fans need to know: Tight ends Colby Fleener and Dwayne Allen present a unique set of challenges for the New England pass defense — they’ll put pressure on a defender like Pat Chung or Jamie Collins to have a big night in pass defense — but when you’re talking about the Colts, you have to discuss Andrew Luck‘s ability to run the ball. It can be overstated (we’re not talking about Michael Vick, circa 2006 here), but he does have the ability to make plays with his legs. He’s the third-best rusher on the Indy roster through nine games with 35 carries for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and while it’s not like the Colts are diagramming plays for him to run, he’s still capable of making teams pay if they don’t play all the way to the whistle. He’s passed for at least 300 yards in seven straight games, and at this point in the season, he’s one of two quarterbacks who have a completion percentage better than 60 percent (64), has thrown for at least 3,000 yards (3,085) and has at least 20 touchdown passes. But he’s also got some wheels, and his running ability has to be taken into consideration when you’re game-planning.
5. By the numbers (tie) — 13: The number of first-quarter points allowed by the Colts through the first nine games of the season. It’s the lowest total in the league.
40.2: The Patriots have averaged a league-best 40.2 points per game in the last five contests, the best stretch in the league in that period.
|Chandler Jones (hip) ruled out again, Akeem Ayers (non-injury) misses practice||11.14.14 at 4:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Chandler Jones will miss his third straight game Sunday when the Patriots travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in Sunday night football. Jones, who injured his hip on Oct. 16 against the Jets, hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury.
The team also reported that Akeem Ayers missed practice Friday for a non-injury related matter. He is expected to play Sunday night, per the team’s injury report released Friday afternoon.
Dominique Easley (knee) leads a group of four players who were limited on Friday and are questionable for Sunday night. Easley returned to practice on Thursday after missing Tuesday and Wednesday practices.
Matthew Slater returned to full participation on Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday. He is officially probable for Sunday.
Chandler Jones won’t be the only one in the football family not playing Sunday night. Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones – Chandler’s brother – has been ruled out with an ankle injury.
Here is Friday’s complete Patriots practice report:
Did not practice
DE Chandler Jones (hip) OUT
DL Dominique Easley (knee) QUESTIONABLE
S Nate Ebner (finger) QUESTIONABLE
OL Cameron Fleming (finger) QUESTIONABLE
OL Ryan Wendell (knee) QUESTIONABLE